As the Chief Executive Officer of Caribou Biosciences, Rachel Haurwitz dedicates most of her days to running one of the leading companies in the US bioscience sector. But the 32-year-old businesswoman never completely abandoned her white coat. Haurwitz uses the expertise she gathered during her time in the lab to ex- plain to investors and the general public the implications in health, agriculture and industry of six letters: CRISPR, a groundbreaking gene editing tool that promises to revolutionise its field.
CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. Caribou is working to develop commercial applications for the technique. The reason the six letters are creating such a buzz in the scientific community is that they al- low an enzyme (called Cas9) to act as a pair of scissors and cut our genetic code in specific places. The “scissors” could target a malfunctioning gene that causes a disease and eliminate it, for example. One team of researchers is trying to erase a mutation that causes certain types of blindness. Others are working on applications for treating cancer. "CRISPR democratised gene editing," Haurwitz says.