Everyone is talking about new gene editing tools such as CRISPR-Cas9, which have made it easy and cheap to tweak the genomes of anything from microorganisms to man. But how the hell do you ‘edit’ a genome?
With the help of designers at The Biologist‘s publishers Think, I developed this guide to what scientists can do with the unfathomably complex CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing system.
What’s amazing is that this system was not designed by scientists – it was simply discovered, doing its gene-editing thing, inside the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes. The bacteria has evolved this ingenious molecular tool to chop up bits of DNA it recognises from previous viral invasions. Scientists can simply adapt it to target whatever gene they are interested in, in any organism.