(WASHINGTON POST) Rachel Feltman — According to a study published this week in Science, we may be one step closer to using animals as organ donors for humans in need. While the study did not go so far as to demonstrate that these organs would be safe for humans, it showcased a new gene editing technique that removes some of the potential hurdles to such a transplant.
The researchers used a gene editing technique called CRISPR–Cas9 (more commonly referred to as CRISPR). CRISPR uses the natural defense mechanisms of bacteria to target specific pieces of DNA in a genome, allowing scientists to essentially crop out — and potentially replace — individual sequences. The possibilities with CRISPR are basically endless, but the technique is still in its infancy. When scientists recently tried to use the method to edit the genomes of human embryos, for example, they had a very low success rate in deleting the genes they wanted to delete, and had a whole mess of erroneously deleted genes to boot.