Born to kill. New CRISPR hope for fighting resistant bacteria

CRISPR evolved in bacteria as a defense mechanism against viral infections. But now researchers are turning the same weapon against bacteria themselves, hoping to defuse antibiotic resistance, which according to WHO is one of the biggest threats to global health.  

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The best of Human Nature, the film about CRISPR

Here is a semi-serious selection of the things that I liked the most in the documentary by Adam Bolt (please see the gallery’s caption to know why)

The CRISPRmobile driven by Rodolphe Barrangou (the CRISPR journal’s editor-in-chief); Fyodor Urnov’s communication skills (and t-shirt); Francisco Mojica replaying his seminal experiment in Spain; Alta Charo’s Star Trek-inspired bio-optimism; Vladimir Putin representing the voice of bio-pessimism (“it may be more terrifying than a nuclear bomb” he said at the World Youth Festival in Sochi, 21 October 2017); Ruthie and David playing basketball while their relatives worry about their health problems; last but not least the movie’s real star, the gorgeous Cas9!

Picks of the week

The ethics of using CRISPR to improve the odds of savior siblings. This is when a couple tries to have another baby who is both healthy and a suitable donor “match” for their older kid (“Could editing the DNA of embryos with CRISPR help save people who are already alive?“, STAT News, Sept. 16).

Carl Zimmer explaining a CRISPR experiment carried out to understand why many cancer drugs fail (“Why Aren’t Cancer Drugs Better? The Targets Might Be Wrong”, New York Times, Sept. 11; see also the paper in Science Translational Medicine)

What you missed this August

While many of us have been enjoying a bit of holiday rest, CRISPR never stopped cutting DNA.

It did it inside smart gels, releasing biomolecules at command and turning electronic circuits into diagnostic devices (see the paper in Science and the news in Nature). It did in the bacterial genome, by manipulating large chunks of chromosomes as hoped for by synthetic biologists (see Science). It did it in the Mediterranean fruit fly  to unveil sex-determination signals (see Science again) and is busy doing it in sheep to fight lethal child brain disease (as reported by The Guardian). Let’s catch up with the latest CRISPR news!