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The Hot New Method

Genome editing is "the new black," writes Rafal Marszalek at BioMed Central's On Biology blog.

However, Marszalek notes that genome editing has been around for some time with researchers relying on TALENs and ZFNs to do the work, though the current craze is centered on the CRISPR/Cas9 system, which gained notice in 2012 through publications from Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier and from Feng Zhang and Luciano Marrafini.

"All these technologies have their enthusiasts; together, they have tremendously expanded the molecular biology toolkit, changing what is possible in life sciences," he says. "And for the last two years not a week has gone without a publication that contains 'genome' and 'editing' in its abstract."

The therapeutic applications of genome editing appear promising, he adds, though some researchers advise caution as off-target effects are investigated. In addition, researchers have called for discussions of the ethical implications of germline editing.