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CRISPR: The Future of Gene Editing

Baking a cake? You’ll need a recipe. Constructing a skyscraper? That’ll require a blueprint. But building a human being? Well, that’ll require the most complex instructions of all: DNA.      

Anyone with the good taste to have seen Jurassic Park at least once will be familiar with Mr. DNA. What might surprise you, however, is that the gene editing research he references has been a fairly slow area for breakthroughs. Until recently, that is…   

In 2020, scientists Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on a technology known as CRISPR-Cas9: essentially an easy-to-use pair of ‘genetic scissors’ capable of targeting and cutting any specific sequence within DNA. A sort of “find and replace” function, that has already enjoyed considerable success in treating sickle-cell anemia and could open an unimaginable number of doors in the future. That’s no mean feat when you consider a single strand of DNA contains around three billion letters!

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