How bacteria invented gene editing This week the UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority okayed a proposal to modify human embryos through gene editing.
The research, which will be carried out at the Francis Crick Institute in London, should improve our understanding of human development.
They realised CRISPR was evidence of a completely unexpected parallel between the way humans and bacteria fight infections.
We've known for a long time that part of our immune system "" about the pathogens it has seen before so it can adapt and fight infections better in future.
If a virus invades the cell, these Cas proteins bind to the viral DNA and help cut out a chunk.
Then, that chunk of viral DNA gets carried back to the bacterial cell's genome where it is inserted - becoming a spacer.
But CRISPR wasn't dreamed up from scratch in a laboratory.
This gene editing tool actually evolved in single-celled microbes. It was only at the tail end of the 1980s that researchers studying Escherichia coli noticed that there were some odd repetitive sequences at the end of one of the bacterial genes.
Your children, though, won't benefit from the wealth of experience locked away in your adaptive immune system.
They have to experience an infection - or be vaccinated - first hand before they can learn to deal with a given pathogen. When a microbe with CRISPR is attacked by a virus, the record of the encounter is hardwired into the microbe's DNA as a new spacer.