Crispr By: Allan Chong

What is it?

Crispr stands for "clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats". Also known as Cas9, it is a prokaryotic DNA immune system that confers resistance to foreign genetic elements such as those present within plasmids and phages that provides a form of acquired immunity.

How is it useful?

The crispr immune system works to protect bacteria from repeated viral attack. The specificity of CRISPR-based immunity in recognizing and destroying invading viruses is not just useful for bacteria. Creative applications of this primitive yet elegant defense system have emerged in disciplines as diverse as industry, basic research, and medicine.

Should it be used and why?

The embryos, provided by patients undergoing in vitro fertilization, will not be allowed to develop beyond seven days. But in theory, and eventually in practice, CRISPR could be used to modify disease-causing genes in embryos brought to term, removing the faulty script from the genetic code of that person’s future descendants as well.

Why is this interesting?

Crispr is faster, cheaper and more accurate than previous techniques of editing DNA and has a wide range of potential applications.

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