This is Better than Science Fiction!
A team of University of Toronto researchers has worked through the human genome, switching off genes in an effort to map out those essential in keeping our cells alive. The scientists were able to identify sets of genes associated with specific cancers, paving the way for highly targeted treatments.
While mapping the human genome was a huge step forward, actually understanding – and therefore being able to manipulate – the function of each individual gene is extremely difficult. In order to work out the individual functions of each of the thousands of genes, scientists switch off genes one-by-one, gauging what happens to the cell as a result.
Early attempts to do this were very slow or too inaccurate to be practical, but a more effective gene editing tool was introduced in 2012, known as CRISPR, which has made the process much quicker and more accurate.