CRISPR is an evolutionary genetic engineering tool that gives our society the profound power to cure genetic disease and reshape our world and simultaneously forces us to grapple with difficult moral dilemmas.

DNA is the instruction manual for life on Earth. It encodes the fundamental properties of an organism — how it lives, grows, and reproduces. Changing a DNA sequence in a living cell is known as genome editing or gene editing.

For a long time, this was either impossible or extremely challenging. The discovery of CRISPR genome editing has made this process much easier. In 2012, research by UC Berkeley professor and Innovative Genomics Institute founder Jennifer Doudna, Emmanuelle Charpentier, and their teams developed a method of repurposing a bacterial immune system called CRISPR to make breaks in DNA at precise locations, using a CRISPR-associated enzyme (the Cas9 protein) like molecular scissors to cut DNA.

As a result of their Nobel Prize winning breakthrough, scientists can now edit the genome of any living organisms including humans by adding new fragments of DNA for the cell to use as a template when it repairs the break in the DNA. In this way, scientists can replace a disease-causing mutation with a healthy sequence or make other modifications to the genome.

Alternatively, scientists can use this method to “knock out” a gene entirely — a technique that is frequently used to study the functions of genes — or to modify portions of the genome that affect how genes are expressed, known as “epigenetic editing.” Together, these methods give scientists powerful new tools to treat disease, improve agriculture, and study fundamental questions of biology.

Over the past 10 years, the CRISPR “toolbox” has continued to grow, improve, and allow for more efficient editing and as the era of CRISPR gathers even more pace, the impact and need to apply to technology responsibly will only intensify.

Through our work with Dr. Doudna and the global gene editing scientific and business community, Thermal is the leading team advising on all CRISPR-related communication strategy.

“All of us have a huge responsibility, to consider carefully both the unintended consequences as well as the intended impacts of CRISPR technology.”

Dr. Jennifer Doudna, Nobel Laureate and co-inventor of CRISPR technology

Read about some of the work we are doing with Dr. Doudna here, her IGI team here, our CRISPR clients such as Scribe Therapeutics here, and a selection of 260 high impact featured tier 1 media we have secured specifically on CRISPR technology here.

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