Jonathan Weissman, MIT

Ex­clu­sive: Big-name aca­d­e­mics and in­vestors are qui­et­ly prepar­ing a slate of new (epi)genome edit­ing com­pa­nies

A few weeks af­ter Jen­nifer Doud­na in­tro­duced CRISPR/Cas9 genome edit­ing to the world, one of her old stu­dents de­cid­ed to take the cen­tral part of the bi­ol­o­gy-al­ter­ing in­ven­tion and kill it.

CRISPR/Cas9, as the name im­plies, is a two-part sys­tem: a string of let­ters called a guide RNA, that says where to cut the DNA. And an en­zyme, Cas9, that does the cut­ting. Of­ten com­pared to mol­e­c­u­lar scis­sors, it was the first sys­tem that al­lowed re­searchers to cut DNA with ease and pre­ci­sion, promis­ing po­ten­tial cures for ge­net­ic dis­eases such as sick­le cell and cys­tic fi­bro­sis.

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