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CRISPR Possibilities

Because of its ability to edit genomes, CRISPR technology is catching the attention of a number of scientists, NPR reports.

"It's really powerful, it's a really exciting development," the University of Massachusetts Medical School's Craig Mello tells NPR's All Things Considered.

Though Mello won the Nobel Prize for his work on RNA interference, he says that CRISPR may be more useful "because now you can essentially change a genome at will to almost anything you want."

Indeed, he's started a company called CRISPR Therapeutics to develop the tool for the clinic. He's focusing in particular on genetic blood disorders like sickle cell anemia and thalassemia.

"Though a lot of testing still needs to be done before doctors can say the CRISPR technique is safe and effective enough for use in treating patients, even many scientists not directly involved in the research are enthusiastic about its possibilities," NPR's Joe Palca says.