crispr takes over

June 27, 2016

As new developments in science are introduced, they follow a familiar trajectory in the peer-reviewed literature of scientific journals. Starting from nothing, publications in hot areas grow in number year by year at an exponential rate, until all the low hanging fruit is picked, and eventual the rate of growth levels off. The number of crispr pubs has been doubling every year and has passed 1084 so far this year, with the year only half over.

Now human trials are opening up, promising another wave of publications. It will be long time before the excitement dies down, maybe years. The list of applications of this amazing gene editing technique is long, and continues to expand. Plants, animals, bacteria, viruses, human being- everything that walks or crawls is fair game. Because of its amazing specificity, it is now possible to precisely replace genes, an engineering strategy that is safe, efficient, fast and economical.Whereas previously engineering living organisms was very much hit or miss, with the crispr technology genes can be hunted out and modified accordingly, and the difficult, painstaking approaches used in the past can be completely sidestepped.

It is too early to predict how the crispr technology will affect various area of biotechnology, but there are no clique' ridden adjectives adequate to describe where this technology is headed. With human trials now planned, ethics committees are scrambling to catch up.



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