As resistance to antibiotics grows in the U.S., researchers are looking for new ways to fight germs like Clostridium difficile, a bacterium that can cause fatal infections in hospitals and nursing homes. One way to do that: a “CRISPR pill” that instructs harmful bacteria to self-destruct. CRISPR is the powerful gene-editing technology already being explored as a way to precisely edit human genes to cure diseases (see “Can CRISPR Save Ben Dupree?”).
But the technology’s versatility is such that it’s being studied for a huge range of other uses. Just last week scientists in Boston showed they could craft CRISPR into cheap, simple diagnostic tests. Now scientists want to turn it into ultra-precise antimicrobial treatments to “specifically kill your bacteria of choice,” says food scientist Jan-Peter Van Pijkeren of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. READ MORE