It used to be the stuff of science fiction: A scientist discovers a way to edit genetic sequences in humans and plant life, creating new opportunities to eliminate diseases and famine. Except in Jennifer Doudna’s case, the CRISPR-Cas9 technology she co-invented in 2012 has already produced real-life benefits—along with a scramble to translate the game-changing process into more treatments and cures. In the meantime, it has shown promise in the fight against COVID.
“CRISPR proteins are quite useful for detection of viruses,” the Berkeley biochemistry professor tells Mike on the podcast of CRISPR-Cas9. “In fact, that's what they naturally do in bacteria. And not only that, they operate by a molecular mechanism that allows them to release a signal when they find their targets. So they can report on the presence of a virus in real time and with a visual signal in a way that I think could be a very powerful diagnostic tool in the near future.”