Washington DC: Science, the prestigious US journal, has released its 2015 'Breakthrough of the Year' with popular gene-editing tool called CRISPR topping the annual list.
Derived from a bacterial protein, CRISPR lets scientists cut and paste specific portions of DNA, offering a path to new treatments or cures for genetic diseases.
Managing News Editor John Travis explained that it is an unprecedented selection, given that the technique appeared twice before among Science's runner-ups and is the only runner-up to subsequently be elevated to Breakthrough status.
CRISPR came on top of Science's annual list of scientific breakthroughs given fresh demonstrations of its muscle this year, including the creation of a long-sought "gene drive" designed to eradicate a variety of pests, the first deliberate editing of the DNA of human embryos (controversial work performed by Chinese researchers last spring) and the CRISPR-driven deletion of 62 copies of a retrovirus' DNA in the pig genome, a move that paves the way for pig organs to be considered for humans awaiting organ donation.
CRISPR's ability to deliver a gene to the right spot compared to its genome editing competitors, at a relatively technique's low cost and ease of use has excited scientists about its potential.
“It's only slightly hyperbolic to say that if scientists can dream of a genetic manipulation, CRISPR can now make it happen,” Travis said.
According to Travis, CRISPR nudged out this year's Pluto space mission for the top vote. On July 15, 2015, NASA's New Horizons made its closest shave with the icy planet, sending back stunning images of Pluto's moons and ice mountains besides other science data.
(With Agency inputs)