CRISPR goes graphic

No wonder “Editing Humanity” by Kevin Davies is good reading. The executive editor of The CRISPR Journal (and the founding editor of Nature Genetics) is really in a great position to tell the CRISPR story so far. But the book deserves praise also for its aesthetic qualities, i.e., pictures and graphics. I’m totally in love with the typographical character marking the start of paragraphs – there is a sign representing Cas9 in place of the conventional pilcrow ¶.

Where is the revived mammoth?

I watched Genesis 2.0, which is debuting in Italy almost two years after its release at the Sundance Film Festival. In the meanwhile, Semyon Grigoriyev has died. The Russian paleontologist leading the effort to clone a mammoth was one of the movie’s main characters. He always had little chance of success, and the plan’s odds are now worse than ever.

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CRISPR & society, the dialogue resumes

CRISPRcon returns with a series of discussions exploring gene editing’s role in COVID-19 testing and treatment, racial disparities, strategies to address climate change, and more. The panel on gene editing and journalism opens the event, that is free and 100% virtual, on Sept 1. Speakers: Tamar Haspel (Washington Post Columnist), Antonio Regalado (Senior Editor for Biomedicine, MIT Technology Review), Elliot Kirschner (Executive Producer, Human Nature and the Wonder Collaborative). Moderator: Ting Wu (Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School).

The fastest CRISPR has a photoswitch

Very fast CRISPR activated by light [Credit: Ella Marushchenko]

Genome editing + optogenetics = very fast CRISPR (vfCRISPR). Two revolutionary techniques meet in the paper by Yang Liu and colleagues just published in Science. The Johns Hopkins University team developed a caged RNA strategy that allows Cas9 to bind DNA but needs light at wavelengths that are not phototoxic to activate cleavage. The cut is immediate upon light exposure, offering scientists a way to study DNA repair from its start. The process is so precise that one allele of a gene can be edited at a time, allowing the generation of heterozygous mutations for studying complex genetic traits. See also the perspective by Darpan Medhi and Maria Jasin in Science.

Waiting for the next Asimov

The DNA double helix as a metaphor for the relationship between genetics and SciFi – novels and movies on the one strand and scientific breakthroughs on the other strand. It’s courtesy of graduated student Kartik Lakshmi Rallapalli, who examines the science and fiction timelines in a post for the Addgene blog.

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Singing in the Lab

If you enjoyed “Bring me a gene” by Tim Blais and wished your friends “A Merry Little CRISPR”, be sure not to miss “The Patent” by Rob Nichols. It’s a parody of “Obedient Servant” from the musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda, “based on the actual events of the CRISPR Revolutionary War”. For an IP update, please see this press-release announcing the 20th CRISPR patent awarded to UC Berkeley.