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July 31st, 2018 / Alliance for Science, US

The hot new gene editing technique CRISPR has been making headlines for its potential to treat or prevent diseases. But medicine isn’t the only science where CRISPR is opening doors. This powerful genetic engineering tool is already helping scientists develop technologies to protect or repair the environment from human harm.

You’ve probably heard that CRISPR allows scientists to edit genes very specifically, cutting and pasting at targeted sites. But this fundamental ability makes CRISPR a great tool for all sorts of complex genetic engineering. Using CRISPR, scientists can:
• Edit many genes simultaneously.
• Deliver proteins to particular genes in order to fine tune their activity.
• Make “markerless” changes. Older methods of genetic engineering were so inefficient, a gene called a marker often had to be inserted in order to identify the cells that were successfully edited.

These traits make CRISPR an invaluable tool for tweaking multipart genetic processes or building whole new pathways. In the CRISPR age of genetic engineering, complex environmental challenges will become a lot more feasible. Read more