By Anna Quinlan
“Everything is possible with CRISPR. I’m not kidding.” Reacting to highly successful CRISPR gene drive experiments that broke all rules of Mendelian genetics and allowed a mutation to sweep a Drosophila population in a single generation (Hesman Saey 2015), Hugo Bellen, a geneticist at Baylor University, summed up a sentiment shared by many. The speed, low cost, and transferability of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to almost any species is redefining what is possible in R&D
On a monthly basis, more and more new applications for CRISPR are published. From creating complex, multigene disease models and whole-genome knockout screens in less than two months to creating inducible systems and generating Cas9 variants that act as epigenetic regulators, CRISPR is not only accelerating R&D. It appears to be emerging as part of the solution to curbing the ever-increasing cost of drug development and reducing late-stage failure rates.