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CRISPR inspires new tricks to edit genes

The molecular tool enters a new phase of creative uses

By
7:00am, August 24, 2016
CRISPR illustration

RETOOLED Tweaks to the cutting-edge gene editor known as CRISPR enhance its powers. 

Scientists usually shy away from using the word miracle — unless they’re talking about the gene-editing tool called CRISPR/Cas9. “You can do anything with CRISPR,” some say. Others just call it amazing.

CRISPR can quickly and efficiently manipulate virtually any gene in any plant or animal. In the four years since CRISPR has been around, researchers have used it to fix genetic diseases in animals, combat viruses, sterilize mosquitoes and prepare pig organs for human transplants. Most experts think that’s just the beginning. CRISPR’s powerful possibilities — even the controversial notions of creating “designer babies” and eradicating entire species — are stunning and sometimes frightening.

Doing more

Traditional CRISPR/Cas9 is one thing: a targeted scissors. A guide RNA shepherds the Cas9 enzyme to a

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