University of Washington

The best science is often accidental

The best science is often accidental

Thirty years ago a group of Japanese scientists published a DNA sequence that they didn't understand. The DNA came from a common bacterium called E. coli and contained a set of repeating sequences separated by spacer regions. As similar sequences were subsequently recognized in other bacteria, they became known as “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats,” or CRISPR for short. Eventually it was realized that CRISPR sequences are part of a bacterial immune system that protects bacterial cells from viruses. In just the past five years, other scientists have discovered that the same system can be used to edit DNA, and the CRISPR revolution is now finding widespread...

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