The CRISPR-Cas9 revolution

Author:  Maria Zagorulya

The discovery of the DNA double helix in the mid-twentieth century heralded a revolution in modern biology. The newfound understanding of how hereditary information is passed down set the foundation for the development of tools to modify and manipulate genes in ways only nature had over billions of years of evolution. Today, the fruits of genetic engineering are widespread: laundry detergent with genetically modified enzymes allow for a more effective wash; golden rice with increased amounts of vitamin A prevents nutritional deficiency; and bacterially synthesized human insulin treats patients with type I diabetes. Recently, a new set of tools for genetic engineering—the CRISPR-Cas9 system—has taken the scientific and public world by storm.