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a scientist performing gene editing

Medical innovations typically take 17 years from the time a lightbulb goes off in a scientist's head until the first person benefits.

But every once in a while, an idea is so powerful and so profound its effects are felt much faster.

That's been the case with CRISPR gene editing, which celebrates a 10th anniversary this month. It has already had a substantial impact on laboratory science, improving precision and speeding research, and it has led to clinical trials for a handful of rare diseases and cancers.

Over the next decade, scientists predict, CRISPR will yield multiple approved medical treatments and be used to modify crops, making them more productive and resistant to disease and climate change.

"It's a revolution in progress," said Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist who founded the Scripps Research Translational Institute, where he serves as director.

The rise of CRISPR is "unmatched and unparalleled" in science, added Brad Ringeisen, the executive director of the Innovative Genomics Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. "It's changed the way we do biology."

What is CRISPR?

In nature, bacteria use CRISPR systems to identify and... see more