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A biochemist who co-led a breakthrough 2012 study of CRISPR-Cas9, Doudna repeatedly emphasized in interviews the challenges of repurposing the molecular system, which bacteria use to fend off viruses, to edit human genomes. The U.S. patent office, in a February ruling that let the Broad keep its CRISPR patents (for now), relied heavily on those statements — “We weren’t sure if CRISPR/Cas9 would work in … animal cells,” for example — to conclude that when scientists at the Broad CRISPR’d human cells in 2013, it was a non-obvious advance and therefore deserving of patents.

So it’s striking that the careful, measured Doudna who said CRISPR’ing human cells and thereby curing devastating diseases would be a challenge is hardly in evidence in “A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution,” the new book she co-authored with her former student Samuel Sternberg. It goes on sale Tuesday.

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Image: By Jussi Puikkonen/KNAW – http://www.flickr.com/photos/79173061@N08/26658739920/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48872128

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