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CRISPR-Cas9: Engineering a revolution in gene editing

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Humans are an exceptionally adaptive species—a characteristic that has enabled us to flourish all over the planet. We have in part thrived by modifying our surroundings, passing this information on to the next generation so that it can be built upon, refined, and improved. Now, technological advances in genomic engineering hold the potential to give us the key to not only modifying our external environment, but to also engineering genetic adaptations for ourselves as well as other species. The CRISPR-Cas9 system evolved as a self-defense mechanism for bacteria. It has been now been retooled into a more globally viable technology, whereby the genetic code of virtually any species can be modified, and for more than simply self-protection. The CRISPR-Cas9 system is revolutionizing genomic engineering and equipping scientists with the ability to precisely modify the DNA of essentially any organism. This gene editing could potentially confer genetic advantages that previously took large amounts of evolutionary time (and perhaps a bit of luck), taxing genetic breeding strategies, or bulkier and more complex genomic editing tools to acquire.

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