CRISPR Has Been Adopted Rapidly by The Scientific Community

Anurag Sharma
Anurag Sharma

Updated · Oct 6, 2023

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“According to CRISPR statistics, clinical trials using CRISPR- based therapies have shown promising results, with over 100 ongoing clinical trials worldwide, which are targeting a variety of genetic disorders and diseases.”

CRISPR stands for Clustered Regulatory Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, which is a revolutionary gene-editing technology in the healthcare system. CRISPR allows scientists to make precise changes to the DNA of living organisms including plants, animals, and human beings.

Key Facts About CRISPR

  • CRISPR is derived from a natural defense mechanism found in bacteria. It was first discovered in the late 1980s but gained significant attention in the early 2020s for its potential applications in gene editing.
  • CRISPR has revolutionized gene editing due to its relative simplicity and cost-effectiveness compared to previous gene editing methods. 
  • CRISPR was first discovered in bacteria as a natural defense mechanism against viral infections in the early 2000s.
  • CRISPR-Cas9 works by using a guide RNA molecule to target a specific sequence of DNA and the Cas9 enzyme to cut the DNA at that location.
  • CRISPR has quickly gained popularity among scientists due to its simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and high efficiency compared to previous gene-editing techniques.
  • The potential of CRISPR for editing human germline cells, which would result in heritable changes passed down to future generations, raises ethical concerns.

CRISPR Success Rate

  • The Ireland-based Research and Markets estimated that the global CRISPR Technology market for gene editing is expected to grow at a revenue of USD 3.087 billion by 2023 from USD 551.2 million in 2017. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 33.26% (2017-2023).
  • North America is dominant in the gene editing market due to higher technological advancements.
  • The market in India accounted for revenue of USD 3.19 billion in 2017 and it grew to revenue of USD 6.28 billion by 2022, with a CAGR of 14.5%.
  • The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy was created with a $250 million grant from the Parker Foundation in April 2016 to conduct the first human clinical trials with CRISPR technology targeted against three types of cancer.
  • NIH funding for CRISPR-related research grew from more than $5 million in FY2011 to $1.1 billion in FY2018. Similarly, the number of CRISPR-related scientific publications increased from 87 in 2011 to 3,917 in 2018.

NIH Funding for CRISPR-Related Research

Fiscal YearNumber of CRISPR ProjectsTotal Funding (Dollars)
20117$5,070,129
20129$7,432,520
201330$12,505,507
2014161$85,298,742
2015551$267,055,410
20161,245$603,205,999
20272,031$947,465,783
20182,651$1,155,385,840
20197$5,070,129

Private Investments in CRISPR Technology Statistics

CRISPR has attracted significant attention and investments from both private and public sources.  Since its discovery, numerous biotechnology companies and research institutions have pursued CRISPR-related projects, leading to substantial investments in the field.

Leading CRISPR start-ups worldwide (2021)

  • Beam Therapeutics was the leading company in the CRISPR gene editing market with funding of USD 222 million in 2022.
  • Editas Medicine was the second leading company in funding for CRISPR technology which funded approximately USD 210 billion in 2021.

(Source: Statista)

CRISPR Statistics, by Country

The United States

The United States has been a major hub for CRISPR research and development. Numerous academic institutions, including the Broad Institute, University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard University, have made significant contributions to advancing CRISPR technology.

The Pew Research Center survey gauged, in broad terms, what the public thinks about the potential use of gene editing to enhance people’s health.

According to Pew Research,

  • Most of the US adults (about 48%) heard a little about gene editing technology.
  •  About 42% of US adults have not at all heard about CRISPR gene editing technology.
  • Only 9% of US adults heard about CRISPR technology a lot. (Source: Pew Research)

China

China has played a significant role in the development and application of CRISPR technology. Chinese scientists have been actively involved in CRISPR research and have made several notable contributions.

  • In 2015, Chinese scientists made headlines when they reported the successful use of CRISPR-Cas9 to modify the DNA of human embryos. This study, led by Dr. Jiankui He, aimed to introduce a mutation in the CCR5 gene associated with HIV resistance.
  • According to a study published in the journal Nature Biotechnology in 2019, China accounted for the highest number of CRISPR publications globally.

Germany

German researchers have been actively involved in studying the mechanism of CRISPR-Cas9 and exploring its potential applications.

  • German universities and research institutes such as the Max Plank Society and Helmholtz Association have been playing a crucial role in CRISPR gene editing technology.
  • Key companies in CRISPR technology such as CRISPR Therapeutics AG, Evotec SE, InSCREENeX GmbH, Editas Medicine GmbH, and CRISPR GmbH fuelling the research and development activities in CRISPR gene editing technology in Germany.

Benefits of CRISPR Technology in COVID-19

  • Rapid Diagnostic Testing: Researchers have developed CRISPR-based diagnostic tests for COVID-19. Two examples include Sherlock Biosciences’ SHERLOCK(tm) (Specific High Sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter Unlocking) and Mammoth Biosciences’ DETEC TR(tm) systems from Mammoth Biosciences that utilize CRISPR technology to detect SARS-CoV-2 DNA present in patient samples faster, potentially more accurately, and easily scaleable than traditional RT-PCR tests for more widespread testing.
  • Understanding COVID-19 Pathogenesis: Researchers have used CRISPR technology to identify potential drug targets for COVID-19 by uncovering the human genes that the virus utilizes to infect human cells.
  • Surveillance of Virus Variants: CRISPR-based diagnostic tools may also be utilized as genomic surveillance tools to track the spread of various SARS-CoV-2 variants and thus inform public health decisions and potentially change infection and mortality statistics.

Challenges in CRISPR Gene Editing Technology

  • Off-Target Effects: One of the primary risks of CRISPR technology is its potential to unintentionally edit “off-target” genes that were not intended to be altered, which could potentially have adverse consequences, leading to cell dysfunction, disease progression, or other unpredictable results.
  • Delivery: Delivery of CRISPR-Cas9 to target cells remains a formidable challenge. Current methods of delivery, which include viral vectors, microinjection, and electroporation, all come with their own set of constraints that may or may not work effectively – for instance, viral vectors may trigger an immune response while Cas9 proteins’ size may limit incorporation into certain vectors; non-viral methods may be less efficient and more stressful on cells.
  • Limited Editing Efficiency: CRISPR-Cas9 doesn’t always successfully edit its target gene. Sometimes it introduces unintended insertions or deletions at its target site (indels), leading to frameshift mutations and other issues.
  • In Vivo Editing: CRISPR technology has demonstrated considerable promise in editing genes within living organisms (in vitro). Unfortunately, translating that technology to editing DNA within living organisms (in vivo) presents its own set of unique challenges: delivery of CRISPR-Cas9 can be more difficult inside an organism; there may also be concerns regarding off-target effects.
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Anurag Sharma

Anurag Sharma

He has been helping in business of varied scales, with key strategic decisions. He is a specialist in healthcare, medical devices, and life-science, and has accurately predicted the trends in the market. Anurag is a fervent traveller, and is passionate in exploring untouched places and locations. In his free time, he loves to introspect and plan ahead.