Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) is an exciting new genetic engineering technology that was found in the chromosomes of certain bacteria and archaea. Bacteriophage are viruses that insert their DNA and hijack the host cell’s machinery to make new phage that can go on to infect new cells. Some microorganisms use CRISPR as a defense mechanism to disrupt the bacteriophage DNA after it is inserted into the cell. CRISPR/Cas9 uses genome editing as a means to alter very specific sections of a foreign genome. CRISPR works with a RNA-guided DNA endonuclease called Cas9. This enzyme can locate and cut viral DNA and inactivate it so that it cannot replicate. Cas9 elicits the help of two forms of RNA called tracrRNA and gRNA (guide). These RNAs work with Cas9 to make modifications within the viral DNA. The CRISPR/Cas9 system is a genetic discovery that will aid researchers in the ability to target viral genomes and edit them. This technique may be able to clear latently infected cells as well as prevent new infections.
Daws, Dustin, "CRISPR/CAS9 Genome Editing System and its use in Infectious Disease" (2017). Thinking Matters Symposium Archive. 121.