The Nobel Lectures and CRISPR Casɸ

Chemistry laureates Emmanuelle Chapentier and Jennifer Doudna showing their Nobel Prize medals Credit: Nobel Prize Outreach

Here you can watch le Nobel Lectures by Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna. Emmanuelle is very focused and très, très chic, oui. Jennifer is generous with credits to colleagues and willing to represent the public conscience of genomic editing. The thing I liked most is the reference to CRISPR-Casɸ: a hypercompact genome editor found in huge phages. Probably it evolved to target the genes of competing phages inside bacterial hosts.

In Doudna’s words: “It’s a tiny protein, but it nonetheless has the RNA-guided DNA-cutting capabilities that we discovered originally in CRISPR-Cas9. And so this is, I think, a fascinating example of nature’s diversity, as well as opportunities that this protein might provide for future applications, including in cases where one could benefit from having a very tiny protein, a small gene that encodes that protein that could be potentially more easily delivered into eukaryotic cells”. Charpentier points out that “We do know nowadays how important it is to really maintain the research in microbiology, to maintain the expertise and to study more bacteria and viruses. Not only because they can cause diseases but also because the last 50 years have shown to which extent bacteria and viruses are really a valuable source for the development of novel biotechnologies. […] CRISPR biologists continue to identify novel CRISPR Cas systems […] and this will continue, so we can expect from research on microbes to have further genetic technologies to be identified in the future”. Let’s wait and see!

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