Crispr Classic Needs An Upgrade, Get Ready for Gene Editing 2.0

Crispr Classic is clunky, unreliable and a bit dangerous.

Associate Prefessor Huang Junjiu, also a gene-function researcher, makes experiments at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou. (Xinhua/Lu Hanxin via Getty Images)
Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

Crispr has revolutionized the face and pace of modern biology in less than five years. Crispr/Cas9 is a riboprotein complex composed of a short strand of RNA and an efficient DNA-cutting enzyme and it have been mentioned in more than 5,000 papers since it was first reported in 2012. Biomedical researchers think it will help create better models of diseases. It has been used to treat cancer and has the potential to cure genetic diseases like sickle cell anemia and beta thalassemia as soon as next year. But Wired writes that Classic Crispr is “somewhat clunky, unreliable, and a bit dangerous.” It cuts in the wrong places, has no off-switch and can’t bind to just any place in the genome. So a newer, flashier, and hopefully better model is starting to roll off the production line. Gene-editing 2.0 promises to outshine Crispr by developing new tools to more tightly control Crispr activity, working with a new class of Cas enzymes that target RNA instead of DNA and more.

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