Recently, there has been a lot of buzz around a “new” tool that scientists have found to perform genetic manipulation that is referred to as CRISPR/Cas. The ability to edit DNA has been available for quite some time, so what makes this method special? The answer lies in what it is and how well it works.
What Is CRISPR?
CRISPR is an acronym that stands for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.” It is not actually a technology; it is a natural DNA sequence found in bacteria. So why do we care about bacterial DNA? What scientists have discovered is that there is a part of the bacterial DNA where DNA sequences would show up over and over and, in between those duplicate sequences, there were more unique sequences that matched the viruses that the bacteria had run into in the past. The bacteria use those unique sequences to identify the viruses that are a threat so they can defend themselves much like an immune system.