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ONC Editorial

Mar 17, 2023

This explainer piece discusses the gene editing tool, CRISPR-Cas9.

According to an article from Yourgenome, CRISPR-Cas9 is a genome editing tool that allows medical researchers and geneticists to remove, add or alter sections of a DNA sequence. CRISPR, which stands for “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats,” is a family of DNA that exists in bacteria. Two important molecules are involved in this genetic modification or mutation process: the enzyme, Cas9, and a type of RNA (Ribonucleic Acid) called guide RNA (gRNA). 

This bacterial mechanism was adapted by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley to be used on animal and human genomes. According to an article from Nature Journal, the scientists who pioneered this technology, Dr. Jennifer Doudna and Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier,  received the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their contributions to gene editing technology.

One greater implication of CRISPR-Cas9 is the ability to study the specific effects of genes on both the cell line and the whole organism itself. This technology could be useful in treating diseases that involve a genetic component, such as certain cancers and chronic illnesses. CRISPR-Cas9 currently exists as the fastest and most cost-effective way to perform gene-editing. However, the ethical implications of this process remain controversial. 

To learn more about this article's author, click here


 “What Is CRISPR-Cas9?” Yourgenome, 8 Feb. 2022, 

Ledford, Heidi, and Ewen Callaway. “Pioneers of Revolutionary CRISPR Gene Editing Win Chemistry Nobel.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 7 Oct. 2020,

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