"After receiving recent approval from the National Institutes of Health, researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine will move forward with the first-ever human trials using CRISPR gene therapy technologies.
CRISPR are segments of prokaryotic DNA containing short repetitions of base sequences. With the ability to easily change DNA, scientists could theoretically slow the aging process and lengthen lives, bring back extinct species and feed the world by changing genes in farm crops so they can grow in different places, according to CNN.
The revolutionary CRISPR gene therapy technology was initially discovered in bacterium by a group of Japanese scientists and quickly took the gene therapy stage by storm. Although numerous other technologies relating to gene therapy have been developed and are currently undergoing investigation, CRISPR revolutionized genetics by becoming the first of its kind of 'genome editor' with innate specificity due to a guide-RNA.
According to Dr. Tobias Raabe, the adjunct associate professor and principal investigator of the Penn Gene Targeting Core and Laboratory, gene therapy technologies could be the future of genetics despite the ongoing debate surrounding them.
'I have no doubt that gene therapy will become extremely important in the future,' Raabe said. 'Even though I am fully aware of the danger of potential off-target effects in gene therapy, very promising novel technologies, including exciting CRISPR-based methods, are currently being developed in academia and in industry to make gene therapy safer.'
According to TIME, CRISPR is considered one of the greatest recent breakthroughs in science."
-Chasen Shao via The Daily Pennsylvanian