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

  • Samsung's Galaxy S8 phone aims to dispel the Note 7 debacle

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Samsung seems to be playing it safe with its first major smartphone since the embarrassing recall of its fire-prone Note 7. The Galaxy S8 features a larger display than its predecessor, the Galaxy S7, and sports a voice assistant intended to rival Siri and Google Assistant. Source
  • How North Korea hides massive nuclear bomb tests

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TOKYO -- Let's say you're North Korea and you have this nuclear device you really want to test. And let's say you'd rather some of the more sensitive details remain private. Physicists, geologists, imagery analysts, some of the best militaries in the world, monitoring posts set up by non-proliferation organizations -- beating the technology arrayed against you will be no mean feat. Source
  • The argument for robot 'personhood'

    Tech & Science CBC News
    What are the rights of a robot? Does it have any? Should it? It's a question few of us have given much thought to, outside of a Friday night curled up in front of a science fiction movie. Source
  • Netherlands town installs traffic lights for pedestrians walking and texting

    Tech & Science CBC News
    It's dubbed "wexting" — walking while texting. So-called distracted walking can certainly be annoying, and some argue it's a public safety hazard. Now, a small town in the Netherlands is testing a novel approach to address those safety concerns. Source
  • Samsung tries to win back customers with Galaxy S8 smartphone

    Tech & Science CBC News
    ??After the damaging recall of its fire-prone Note 7 smartphone, you could be forgiven for thinking Samsung Electronics would make a song and dance about battery safety in its new flagship phones, due to be launched in the U.S. Source
  • 'Unreal when it targets you': Faceless trolls attack online

    Tech & Science CTV News
    One morning near the end of her long-shot congressional campaign, 25-year-old Erin Schrode rolled over in bed, reflexively checked her cellphone -- and burst into tears. With mounting horror, she scanned a barrage of anti-Semitic emails from anonymous trolls. Source
  • Changing jet stream, extreme weather linked to humans: study

    Tech & Science CBC News
    From the heat and drought that led to explosive fire conditions in Fort McMurray to non-stop rain before the disastrous Calgary flooding — these are perfect examples of how too many days of any kind of weather can lead to catastrophic extremes. Source
  • U.S. lawmakers vote to allow internet providers to sell customers' browsing data

    Tech & Science CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The House voted Tuesday to block online privacy regulations issued during the final months of the Obama administration, a first step toward allowing internet providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to sell the browsing habits of their customers. Source
  • Supermassive black holes give birth to stars, astronomers discover

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A team of astrophysicists has discovered that supermassive black holes at the centre of galaxies aren't just destroyers of stars, but can also be their creators. Stellar black holes form from the collapse of a large star. Source
  • Fake toons: Kids falling prey to adult parodies of popular children's shows

    Tech & Science CTV News
    YouTube has a fake toons problem. Parent groups are sounding the alarm after thousands of seemingly kid-friendly YouTube videos were found to contain violent and sexual content, in cartoons made to look like shows such as "Peppa Pig" and "Doc McStuffins. Source