Breakthrough of the year? ‘Science’ says gene-editing

Recent advances in the field of genetic editing have earned ‘Science’ Magazine’s prestigious title of breakthrough of the year.

It’s been a wild ride for the scientists involved, but the discoveries made by the various research teams working with the CRISPR Cas-9 gene-editing tool have finally reached critical mass. According to a report from Phys.org, the CRISPR body of research has been named the breakthrough of 2015 by the influential journal Science.

Research on gene editing using the CRISPR tool has finally brought scientists in China to the point where they feel that they can begin fully cloning humans. Researchers have deliberately altered the DNA of nonviable human embryos acquired from a fertility clinic, raising a number of ethical questions that few believed we would be forced to consider.

Despite fears that the widespread genetic editing of unborn humans could have serious unforeseen consequences in the general population, the scientific community is extremely excited about the “superior ability of CRISPR to deliver a gene to the right spot compared to its genome editing competitors – as well as the technique’s low cost and ease of use.”

Though the CRISPR technique is only three years old, laboratories across the country, including high school labs, have begun experimenting with the genetic scissors for a wide range of applications.

CRISPR doesn’t just offer the possibility of selecting desirable traits in unborn humans; it can also be used to create tissue-based treatments for cancer and a host of other diseases, and could pave the way for making animal organs viable for human transplant.

While many readers believed that NASA deserved the glory for its highly publicized flyby of Pluto earlier this year, the CRISPR genetic editing tool represents ingenuity that can have real effects to the people living on earth in the present.

A press release from Science Magazine describing the recent advances in genetic editing can be found here.

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