By T. Oliver Chao
When a friend decided to leave the pharmaceutical industry two years ago, he asked me halfheartedly what to look out for in the future. Without thinking too hard or long, I answered, “Remember the name CRISPR! It may save your life later.“ Now as we march into mid-2016, CRISPR’s magic wand seems capable of touching a wide spectrum of human diseases—from predisposed genetic liability to epigenomic modification and from metabolic disorders to infectious pathogens.
Perhaps my friendly prediction two years ago was not too far off after all. It is probably safe to say that CRISPR is on almost every health-conscious person’s mind nowadays. From New York Times special articles to late-night TV talk shows, from a highly anticipated (wishful) confirmation of last year’s Nobel Prize to a 12-figured 2016 calendar by Nature Protocols, CRISPR/Cas seems to have become the promised innovation destined to change our lives. Or, according to the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, a potential “weapon of mass destruction and proliferation.” Anyway, it is probably safe to say that CRISPR is no longer just a geek topic.
Naturally, if you already know what CRISPR/Cas9 or ZFNs stand for, or nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) and homology directed repair (HDR) mean, you probably are reading this article just to find the errors and misconceptions. That’s fair. In the cover article for the May issue of the AAPS Newsmagazine, I just try to highlight the recent scientific efforts in translating the genome editing approaches to various therapeutic applications. If you have the patience to read this article, it would be my sincere wish that it can serve as a concise information resource on genome editing for your interview with Bloomberg or CNN, hopefully at least until the end of 2016.
Read The Therapeutic Promise of Genome Editing: In My Lifetime? from the AAPS Biotechnology section, and then participate in the discussion point below.
How can we balance the “good” versus “bad” applications of genome editing?