3. Gene Altering, Using CRISPR

Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) is a form of gene editing that eliminates genetic disease by identifying and removing damaged genes from a DNA strand.1 Unlike other gene-editing techniques, it is rapid, user-friendly, and inexpensive (costing as little as $30).1 Among its anticipated uses will be altering genes of immune cells to enable them to kill pathogens, or cancer cells.5

4. Water Purification for the Prevention of Infectious Diseases

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 700 million people worldwide drink unsafe water daily.1 A new type of sewage treatment plant has shown promise in converting human waste to clean drinking water. In contrast to the current sewage treatment systems, which utilize large quantities of electricity, the new Omniprocessor generates its own electricity by utilizing human waste. It costs approximately $1.5 million and can handle the waste of 100,000 people daily. It is now being tested in Dakar, Senegal.1,6

5. Cell-Free Fetal DNA Testing

Cell-free DNA from the plasma of pregnant women is a noninvasive form of prenatal screening for fetal aneuploidy, offering high sensitivity and specificity for trisomy 19 and trisomy 21.7 It is poised to become widely available in the coming year.1 However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has issued several caveats concerning its use, noting that “cell-free DNA screening does not replace the precision obtained with diagnostic tests, such as chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis and, therefore, is limited in its ability to identify all chromosome abnormalities.”7