Almost all biotech news platforms are buzzing about the developing CRISPR technique lately. CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) is a gene-editing technique that makes it possible to cut open DNA at a specific spot and make a permanent alteration to a person’s DNA. If successful, this technique could eliminate the 5,000 or so inherited disorders caused by gene errors.
Previous gene therapy called for inserting entire replacement genes into a person’s cells using a virus. However, certain diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy proved to be incompatible. In the case of muscular dystrophy, a person’s body does not make the protein dystrophin. The gene for dystrophin is too big to fit inside a virus, so gene therapy would not work, but CRISPR’s DNA-snipping proteins to fit inside a virus. Although the technique is in its beginning stages, its ability to “search and replace” genetic letters has opened a door to a variety of possible treatments.
On a lighter note, the famous Jennifer Lopez is teaming up with NBC to create a new “futuristic bio-terror drama” called C.R.I.S.P.R. They plan for it to be a thriller set in the near future, regarding DNA hacking, with each episode exploring a single bio-attack. Little information has been released about the show itself, but the title seems fitting. In anticipation for more details, Nick Stockton, at Wired Magazine, decided to write the plot for the producers…I’m not entirely sure how seriously he believes that this is the path they are headed in, but it will be interesting to see the real production.