The CRISPR story: How basic research discovery changed science

When Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier embarked on the project that would change science and medicine in incalculable ways, their intentions were much more muted. Theirs was a basic research inquiry into bacterial immune systems, not an attempt to develop a new tool to manipulate the genetic code.

Yet their discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9 editing complex, recognized Wednesday with the Nobel Prize in chemistry, has ignited what even scientists allergic to hyperbole routinely call a revolution in how science is conducted. Researchers and companies are regularly discovering new applications in agriculture, diagnostics, and therapeutic development.

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