At the very least, CRISPR (more formally known as CRISP-Cas9) is the most important innovation in the synthetic biology space in nearly 30 years. Measured against any benchmark — such as the number of patents and scientific publications or the amount of government funding and private sector funding – interest in CRISPR has skyrocketed since 2013.
What CRISPR enables, say its proponents, is a quick, easy and effective way to edit the genes of any species – including humans. Other methods take months or years, while CRISPR speeds that time up to mere weeks. The ability to cut and splice genes so quickly and so precisely has potential applications for the ability to create new biofuels, materials, drugs and foods within much shorter time frames at a relatively low cost.