CRISPR stocks have gotten battered in the second half of the year, yet the precision gene-editing technology is proving to be a game-changer for medicine, agriculture and even the environment. In the last year alone, scientists have used CRISPR to annihilate malaria-causing mosquitoes, cure Huntington’s disease in mice, and supercharge human immune cells to better seek and destroy cancer.
CRISPR effectuates change in the genetic code of an organism via a “cut and paste” technique that results in swapping in a desired trait or eliminating an undesirable trait. The technology has been likened to a “find and replace function” for DNA. Scientists design a short sequence of genetic code called guide RNA that matches the code they wish to replace in the host. They then attach the guide RNA to a protein called CAS9, which roams the cells until it finds the matching piece of code. The target gene is then eliminated so it no longer functions correctly. As one scientist eloquently stated, “It cuts out the error and sticks in the correct code.”
Since our June 14 report titled CRISPR Hits Another Snag; But It's two Steps Forward, one Step Back, there have been some exciting new developments that bode well for CRISPR companies. Here are some of those milestones . . .