You are on page 1of 1

Crispr: 'genetic scissors' that cut out mutated genes

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is to launch the first major research
project using a new technique of genome editing, tipped for the Nobel Prize,
aimed at discovering new drugs.
Crispr technology is a relatively new scientific tool that allows changes to be
made to DNA sequences, giving scientists the "unprecedented power to rewrite
the code of life," according to The New York Times.
AstraZeneca says it will harness the technology to develop new drugs in
oncology, cardiovascular, respiratory and immune system medicine.
What does it involve?
Crispr, an acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic
Repeat, is a technique that allows scientists to cut out and modify the DNA
sequence of humans, animals and plants.
"This type of gene editing can be likened to editing a sentence with a word
processor to delete words or correct spelling mistakes," explains Ekaterina Pak
from Harvard University.
It is cheaper, faster and far more accurate than other techniques currently
being employed, says the BBC's science correspondent Pallab Ghosh. It is also
a tool that is easier for scientists to handle in the laboratory.
What can it be used for?

Genome surgery: Last year, evidence was published that showed Crispr
can be used to "correct" a mutant gene and reverse the symptoms of a
disease in mice. In a single treatment, researchers were able to cure a rare
liver disorder by cutting out the mutant form of the gene and replacing it
with the correct, healthy sequence. Scientists in the Netherlands also

showed that they could use the technique to fix a genetic mutation that
causes cystic fibrosis.
Research: "One important application of such a technology is to
facilitate making animal models with precise genetic changes to study the
progress and treatment of human diseases," says Pak. This means
genetically modifying laboratory animals so that they can be used to test
medicine for a wide range of diseases that affect humans.