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Editing for All

People of all ages are trying their hand at CRISPR-based gene editing, NPR reports.

A community lab in Brooklyn called Genspace is offering a class on how to edit genomes with students still in middle school and students who are professionals in other fields, it says. Additionally, a 13-year-old student in Massachusetts, Abby Pierce, has used CRISPR to modify bacteria so that they can survive an antibiotic that typically kills them, as NPR reports.

It notes that some are likening biology today to computer science a few decades ago. "Biology is the newest technology that people need to learn," University of Pennsylvania's Orkan Telhan says. "It's a new skill set everyone should learn because it changes the way you manufacture things, it changes the way we learn, store information, think about the world."

Others, though, are concerned about the intentional or accidental creation of harmful bacteria, NPR adds. It says that the German government has issued a warning about one type of CRISPR kit, as when officials tested it, they found potentially harmful bacteria in two kits. The German government also noted that certain kits and uses are subject to genetic-engineering laws.