Mello talks to National Public Radio about the exciting future of CRISPR

By Jim Fessenden

UMass Medical School Communications

June 27, 2014
  Craig C. Mello
  Craig Mello, PhD, talks about how CRISPR works with NPR science reporter Joe Palca. 

Nobel Laureate Craig C. Mello, PhD, believes medical applications using the genome-engineering tool known as CRISPR are possible in the near future, he said in an interview with National Public Radio science reporter Joe Palca.

"It's really powerful, it's a really exciting development," said Dr. Mello, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine and distinguished professor of molecular medicine and cell biology. Mello won the Nobel Prize in 2006 for a different technique that also allows scientists to modify how genes work. This new tool is more powerful, Mello explained, “because now you can essentially change a genome at will to almost anything you want. The sky's the limit.”

CRISPR, which stands for clustered regularly interspersed short palindromic repeats, is a kind of adaptive immune system found in archaea and bacteria. It provides resistance to potential invaders, such as plasmids and phages, by recognizing and cleaving foreign genetic elements in a manner similar to how RNAi works in humans and other animals to turn off gene expression. In 2012, it was shown that CRISPR components programmed by RNA guides can deliver effector domains to specific human genes in order to activate or deactivate them.

Listen to the full story here: A CRISPR Way To Fix Faulty Genes