That’s some crisp editing

Forgive the play on words for the title! it’s just about the CRISPR-Cas system.

 

Sometimes, when, I sit and ponder over the use of technology, I always wonder how exciting it would’ve been at the moment of “finding something”.

A couple of years later, the existing sentiment becomes “how did I live without this?” Yes, I’m talking about you, internets.

 

Well, not really. What actually led me to start thinking about this was this whole CRISPR-Cas system that now seems to be “the” topic to be talking about in the life sciences circles. With words like genome editing and really good targeting efficiency, it’s bound to create some buzz.

 

So, CRISPR systems seem to be a part of some bacteria’s adaptable immune system to protect them from foreign viruses (nucleic acids) from invading it and seems to be found in evolutionary clusters. (CRISPR stands for clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeat – wow, what a mouthful – these biologists and their naming conventions, I tell you!) What’s interesting is, how, yet again, there’s been some pretty slick exploitation of bacterial defense mechanism to engineer something in cells (the other most important one being the use of restriction enzymes in all of genetic manipulation experiments these days. In fact, it has become sort of trivial to use restriction enzymes, that my cousin in secondary school told me she had read about it in school as a way to modify DNA!)

 

Besides the actual technique of how it’s done (which I’m sure those Nature papers will tell you), I find it interesting that in about one year, there have been over a 1000 publications on this. It’s not very often that I witness these interesting moments in science. And from the little I’ve read about it, it seems to have a pretty high efficiency in terms of specific editing. While I may not know how long this technique will last or when something more efficient will come up, this would be an interesting thing to track, since it’s a part of my lifetime – particularly at a time when I can consciously understand and appreciate it.
One of the folks at lab will be working on a CRISPR-Cas project and I hope to help out with it when I can. That way, I can actually try my hand at it. Should be fun!

Happy summer, folks!

 

P.S. My understanding of this is from a few papers I have read; but do not remember them right now for citation. Also, image is from wikipedia.

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