Written by: Karmella Haynes.
Stanley Qi, the first scientist to validate the core components of a new and currently widespread type of gene editing system called CRISPR. Stanley explained that CRISPR got its name when scientists noticed DNA sequence patterns in bacterial genomes…clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats. Later we learned that these repeats act as a sort of information storage system that is poised to produce short RNAs that can tag invading DNA and RNA (viruses) for destruction.
People who first heard of CRISPR as the newest tool to engineer DNA to stop HIV and fix genetic diseases may not be aware that the first widespread application of CRISPR was actually very basic…to protect large batch cultures of yogurt from viral invasions.
Once the useful, core requirements were identified by basic research, the DNA-targeting component (the guide RNA) and the active protein component (the Cas protein) were isolated and creatively altered by scientists to cut specific DNA targets such as disease genes, control the expression of specific genes (Stanley’s work), and even to paint specific genetic loci with fluorescent proteins.