What is CRISPR gene editing, and how does it work?

Scientists discovered some bacteria can cut the DNA of invading viruses as a defence mechanism. They realised they could use this to cut human DNA.

What is CRISPR gene editing, and how does it work?

You’ve probably read stories about new research using the gene editing technique CRISPR, also called CRISPR/Cas9. The scientific world is captivated by this revolutionary technology, since it is easier, cheaper and more efficient than previous strategies for modifying DNA.

The term CRISPR/Cas9 stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats/CRISPR associated protein 9. The names reflect important features identified during its discovery, but don’t tell us much about how it works, as they were coined before anyone understood what it was.