“I really want to be building on this technology here at Berkeley and making sure that we are creating a community of scientists that are doing two things: not only extending this extraordinary science and thinking about how to apply genome editing in ways that will have real impact on humanity; but also doing it with an eye towards social responsibility.”
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. “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.”