During the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of the world’s scientists — including Jennifer Doudna, the researcher best known for her Nobel-worthy role in the discovery of the gene editing technology called CRISPR — put their work on hold to pitch in studying and testing for the novel coronavirus. Last year saw the return, if not an avalanche, of at least a steady pour of CRISPR advances, including the first successful use of in vivo editing in early human trials.
The editing toolkit is also continuing to expand, with the creation of molecules capable of precisely cutting out large chunks of DNA and innovative new methods for delivering gene-altering machinery into cells. CRISPR is becoming an umbrella term for a menagerie of molecular systems scientists are harnessing to rewrite the biological source code of the world around us. And that no longer means just changing DNA in a single organism.