Why CRISPR Gene-Editing Technology Is Captivating Research Field

Marijke Vroomen Durning, RN
Published: Wednesday, Aug 17, 2016
Tyler Jacks, PhD

Tyler Jacks, PhD

CRISPR is a revolutionary new gene-editing technology that has taken the medical research community by storm.

Changing the Landscape

According to researchers, CRISPR and functional genomics have changed the cancer research landscape. Researchers have been working on genome engineering since the 1970s but the techniques were inefficient or too difficult to use. “The reason [CRISPR] is exciting is that we have not had the ability to so precisely and so simply manipulate the genomes of cells, mammalian cells in particular, before this time,” Tyler Jacks, PhD, said in an interview with OncLive. “It’s remarkably powerful and beautiful in its simplicity. It’s just such a simple, straightforward system to use, and that is why it’s so popular— because an eighth-grader could do it.”

“It’s swept the field, which is pretty remarkable because the first breakthrough paper was only published in the summer of 2012,” Jacks said. “The last I counted, there had been something like 5000 papers since then, using the technology, which is pretty phenomenal.”

Multiple Manipulations

The ability to make such precise alterations may have been exciting on its own; however, CRISPR has an even greater advantage: more than one gene can be altered at the same time. Considering that most genetic disorders, including cancer, are caused by more than one damaged gene, the ability for multiple manipulations increases CRISPR’s potential utility.
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