News2013 Runners-Up

Genetic Microsurgery for the Masses

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Science  20 Dec 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6165, pp. 1434-1435
DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6165.1434-a

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A gene-editing technique called CRISPR touched off an explosion of research in 2013, leading Science's editors to name it a runner-up for the 2013 Breakthrough of the Year. The technique is based on a protein called Cas9, which bacteria wield as a weapon to slice up the DNA of predatory viruses. In 2012, researchers showed they could turn Cas9 into a scalpel to perform microsurgery on genes. This year, more than a dozen teams wielded it to manipulate specific genes in mice, rats, bacteria, yeast, zebrafish, nematodes, fruit flies, plants, and human cells, paving the way for understanding how these genes function and possibly harnessing them to improve health.