Gene-editing technique named 2015's breakthrough of the year

(Miami, United States) - A gene-editing technique known as CRISPR was named Thursday by the influential U.S. journal Science as 2015's breakthrough of the year, due to its potential to revolutionize health and medicine.

See Full Article

The method has stirred controversy, particularly after Chinese researchers earlier this year announced they had deliberately edited the DNA of nonviable human embryos from a fertility clinic.

Concerns over such research -- and the prospect of altering humans to promote certain, desirable traits -- recently prompted global scientists to urge researchers to steer clear of interfering with embryos destined for pregnancy, citing the risks of introducing permanent changes into the population.

But many are excited about the "superior ability of CRISPR to deliver a gene to the right spot compared to its genome editing competitors -- as well as the technique's low cost and ease of use," said the journal Science.

"Clinical researchers are already applying it to create tissue-based treatments for cancer and other diseases," wrote managing news editor John Travis.

"CRISPR may also revive the moribund concept of transplanting animal organs into people."

Thousands of labs, high school students and scientists have already begun exploiting the three-year old technique, he said.

"It's only slightly hyperbolic to say that if scientists can dream of a genetic manipulation, CRISPR can now make it happen," said Travis.

The technique, first announced in 2012, experienced a "massive growth spurt last year," Travis said, describing it as a "molecular marvel."

Marcia McNutt, editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals, said in an accompanying editorial that "in two years' time CRISPR will have brought to many diverse fields in biology the enduring level of excitement and optimism that immunotherapy has brought to cancer patients."

Immunotherapy, a host of techniques which harness the body's immune cells to fight cancer, was named Science's breakthrough of 2013.

But the lay public was less enthusiastic about CRISPR, according to online visitors who voted on the top 10 picks of the year on Science's website.

To 35 per cent of voters, the flyby of Pluto by an unmanned NASA probe called New Horizons was the top breakthrough of the year, offering views in unprecedented detail of the distant dwarf planet.

CRISPR followed with 20 per cent of online votes.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Man says he punched grizzly bear in the nose in B.C.

    Tech & Science CTV News
    QUALICUM BEACH, B.C. - A British Columbia man's beachcombing trip turned into a harrowing fight for survival as a grizzly bear flailed him around "like a puppet." Fifty-seven-year-old Randal Warnock says he had been walking on the beach on Brown Island on B.C. Source
  • 'Mystery' signal from space is solved; it's not aliens

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Astronomers have finally solved the mystery of peculiar signals coming from a nearby star, a story that sparked intense public speculation this week that perhaps, finally, alien life had been found. It hasn't. The signal, which has been formally named "Weird!" was interference from a distant satellite. Source
  • Possible melted fuel seen for first time at Fukushima plant

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TOKYO -- An underwater robot captured images of solidified lava-like rocks Friday inside a damaged reactor at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, spotting for the first time what is believed to be nuclear fuel that melted six years ago. Source
  • North Atlantic right whale to be examined on N.B. island

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MISCOU ISLAND, N.B. -- Marine mammal experts will examine another North Atlantic right whale today after it was found dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The federal Fisheries Department says the necropsy is being conducted near the Miscou Island Lighthouse on the northern tip of Miscou Island, N.B. Source
  • Elephant seals have rhythm and they know how to use it

    Tech & Science CBC News
    New research published in the journal Current Biology finds that elephant seals identify one another by the rhythm in their calls, much the way humans can discern accents and vocal tone. Previously there was no recorded example of a non-human mammal that could remember and recognize a wide range of rhythms. Source
  • Moon dust collected by Neil Armstrong sold for $1.8 million

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK -- A bag containing traces of moon dust sold for $1.8 million at an auction on Thursday following a galactic court battle. The collection bag, used by astronaut Neil Armstrong during the first manned mission to the moon in 1969, was sold at a Sotheby’s auction of items related to space voyages. Source
  • Moon dust collected by Neil Armstrong sold for US$1.8 million

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK -- A bag containing traces of moon dust sold for $1.8 million at an auction on Thursday following a galactic court battle. The collection bag, used by astronaut Neil Armstrong during the first manned mission to the moon in 1969, was sold at a Sotheby’s auction of items related to space voyages. Source
  • China announces goal to dominate AI field by 2030

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BEIJING -- China’s government has announced a goal of becoming a global leader in artificial intelligence in just over a decade, putting political muscle behind growing investment by Chinese companies in developing self-driving cars and other advances. Source
  • Cops wage psychological warfare against online drug bazaars

    Tech & Science CTV News
    HOUSTON - In an innovative blow to illicit internet commerce, cyberpolice shut down the world's leading "darknet" marketplace - then quietly seized a second bazaar to amass intelligence on illicit drug merchants and buyers. AlphaBay, formerly the internet's largest darknet site, had already gone offline July 5 with the arrest in Thailand of its alleged creator and administrator. Source
  • Alexandre Cazes, suspected founder of Dark Web market AlphaBay, found dead in Thai police custody

    Tech & Science CTV News
    HOUSTON - In an innovative blow to illicit internet commerce, cyberpolice shut down the world's leading "darknet" marketplace - then quietly seized a second bazaar to amass intelligence on illicit drug merchants and buyers. AlphaBay, formerly the internet's largest darknet site, had already gone offline July 5 with the arrest in Thailand of its alleged creator and administrator. Source