The end-of-year FDA approval of the first CRISPR-based therapy, for sickle cell disease, came a mere dozen years after Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier introduced the technology. They shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020.
CRISPR is one of the better abbreviations in genetics. It's certainly more memorable than RFLPs, GWAS, and even SNPs, so euphonious that few reports – technical or otherwise – actually use the term "clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats." CRISPRs are short DNA sequences, peppered with repeats, that latch onto DNA-cutting enzymes, commandeering and directing them to snip certain parts of a chromosome.
The genomes of certain bacteria naturally harbor CRISPR sequences. The microbes deploy them to dismantle the genetic material of infecting viruses, a little like an immune response.
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