In layman’s terms, genome editing allows research scientists to alter gene sequences by adding, removing, or swapping specific segments of a gene, e.g. to fix a sequence associated with a serious condition or disease.
In this field, few technologies have shown as much potential, scope, and promise as the new CRISPR process. It makes it easier, and faster, to find, delete, or replace gene segments using RNA-protein complexes to pinpoint specific DNA sequences in a cell before cutting them and allowing the cell to paste in new DNA information. Paired with an enzyme designed to “cut” the code (Cas9), this dynamic duo can detect errors in a very specific way to potentially stop diseases in their tracks.
Since their mainstream introduction in 2014, these new “gene scissors” have taken the scientific community by storm. Now used in thousands of labs around the world, they allow research scientists to observe, highlight, and modify gene sequences responsible for specific biological processes or even to screen for disease and cancer markers.