What is a CRISPR, and why should I care about it?

CRISPR has been all over the news lately.  CRISPR is a new technology that can edit stretches of genetic codes on DNA.

CRISPRs are a type of DNA found in bacteria, and they can edit very precise locations of DNA in cells.  The hope is that CRISPR technology can be used to cure diseases.  It was discovered by a scientist in Spain, who found that CRISPRs serve as part of our immune system to defend against viruses.  CRISPRs consist of repeating sequences of genetic codes, and it has a memory that helps our body recall past infections when they return.

The enzymes that are produced by CRISPR can be programed to bind to DNA and shut off a gene that is causing a problem.

There is hope that CRISPR technology can help conditions such as Cystic Fibrosis, Muscular Dystrophy, certain congenital heart diseases, and even help fight serious infections.  So far over 1000 research papers have been written about CRISPR, but much more information is still needed to determine the safety and effectiveness of this technology.

(CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.)


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