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Manuel Almagro Riva, Wikipedia

The gene-editing tool CRISPR can be used to rapidly diagnose infectious diseases, researchers show in a new study. They detected viruses like Zika and its close relative dengue, found cancer mutations and quickly spotted single genetic mutations.

Why it matters: The method is faster, cheaper and better than existing ones.

How it works: CRISPR is based on a defense system used by bacteria. It deploys an enzyme that scans a cell's genome to find a particular DNA sequence then snips it, allowing the sequence to then be tinkered with by changing or adding the molecules that form a genetic code. Feng Zhang and his colleagues have now shown that the same technique can be used to test saliva, blood, and other body fluids for the presence of genetic material from viruses and bacteria with a million times more sensitivity than today's most common diagnostic tool.

What to expect next: Commercialization. CRISPR-anything is big business. Venture capital firms, pharmaceutical companies and public stock offerings have already injected a billion dollars into companies harnessing the technology to engineer drugs, speed up livestock breeding, and create disease resistant crops. CRISPR diagnostic tools are likely to clear regulatory hurdles and make their way to market before more controversial gene-editing technologies.

Big picture: Walter Isaacson talked to Axios about the morality of it all.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note ±3.3% margin of error for the total sample size; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

About half of Americans are worried that trick-or-treating will spread coronavirus in their communities, according to this week's installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: This may seem like more evidence that the pandemic is curbing our nation's cherished pastimes. But a closer look reveals something more nuanced about Americans' increased acceptance for risk around activities in which they want to participate.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: The good and bad news about antibody therapies — Fauci: Hotspots have materialized across "the entire country."
  2. World: Belgium imposes lockdown, citing "health emergency" due to influx of cases.
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Education: Surge threatens to shut classrooms down again.
  5. Technology: The pandemic isn't slowing tech.
  6. Travel: CDC replaces COVID-19 cruise ban with less restrictive "conditional sailing order."
  7. Sports: High school football's pandemic struggles.
  8. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Updated 11 hours ago - Economy & Business

Dunkin' Brands agrees to $11B Inspire Brands sale

Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Dunkin' Brands, operator of both Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, agreed on Friday to be taken private for nearly $11.3 billion, including debt, by Inspire Brands, a restaurant platform sponsored by private equity firm Roark Capital.

Why it matters: Buying Dunkin’ will more than double Inspire’s footprint, making it one of the biggest restaurant deals in the past 10 years. This could ultimately set up an IPO for Inspire, which already owns Arby's, Jimmy John's and Buffalo Wild Wings.