New methods for the targeted modification of genomes are classed together under the term genome surgery (also known as genome editing). They are currently sparking a revolution in research.
Against this backdrop CRISPR/Cas technology is attracting a great deal of attention because it is precise, easy to use and consequently cost-effective. It has, therefore, spread very quickly. The acronym CRISPR stands for „Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats“ and Cas for „CRISPR-associated“ proteins. This system involves the targeted binding of what are known as „molecular scissors“ (Cas proteins), through the introduction of guide molecules (guide-RNA), to specific sequences of hereditary information (DNA), and cutting them at the targeted location. By means of the cell's own repair systems the genome can be modified at these specific locations. Several genome locations can be targeted at the same time („multiplexing“). The method, that was originally based on a defence system for bacteria against viruses, can be used universally. It can be applied in bacteria, plants, animals and humans.
Hence, this is a cross-sectional topic of the Group. It is relevant for various research areas in which the Group is involved. The Group has, therefore, already turned its attention to genome surgery on various occasions in events and publications. One special focus here are the natural scientific, ethical and legal aspects of a conceivable germline therapy in man.