Nobel portraits, mind & hand

CRISPR inventors Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, portrayed by Herlinde Koelbl for the book Fascination of Science, which the photographer (famous for her work on Angela Merkel) dedicated to leading scientists. The photos, currently on display at the Koch Institute, capture “the connection between the personal & the pursuit of knowledge—between mind & hand—of pioneering scientists across the globe.”

A genomic vertigo for World CRISPR Day

Today is World CRISPR Day, let’s feel a bit of genomic vertigo by exploring CRISPR’s orders of magnitude with the help of the CRISPR Journal. The latest editorial (“Extreme Genome Editing”) goes from micro to macro, from phages to forests. Let’s give some numbers.


The size of edits spans from a single nucleotide to the removal of genomic islands greater than 100 kb (almost six orders of magnitude). The size of edited organisms varies between 10−7 m for submicroscopic viruses to over 10 m for trees (more than eight orders of magnitude). The range of genomes is tens of kilobases to tens of gigabases (seven orders of magnitude).

“Some of these theoretical combinations thus reach frightening orders of magnitude, from the modification of a single base in a 30 kb bacteriophage administered in a single 1 ml dose to 1 kb inserted in a 30 Gb tree genome scaled up to 100,000 hectares of a commercial forest” (here is the full text for more enjoyment of CRISPR vertigo).

Craspases – surprising new CRISPR scissors are coming

3D portrait of Craspase (credit Ailong Ke)

The classic CRISPR system cuts DNA. Other variants cleave RNA. But now in the toolbox of new biotechnologies may come a tool that targets proteins: a CRISPR-driven caspase, already dubbed Craspase. What remains constant is that all these tools are programmable, thanks to the guide molecule that recognizes the desired target and directs the scissors there for editing. They are not paper shredders, rather they act like scalpels.

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Gender equity meets CRISPR

Navneet Matharu, Jenny Hamilton and Lin Du

The Women in Enterprising Science Program (WIES) is located on the UC Berkeley campus and is supported by the foundation of Solina Chau Hoi Shuen (co-founder of Horizons Ventures in Hong Kong). The initiative, aiming to enhance gender equity in bio-entrepreneurship, was presented last March by IGI, the institute founded by Jennifer Doudna. In the pictures above you can see the inaugural cohort of fellows, announced this month.

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Happy 10th Birthday CRISPR!

The seminal paper by Doudna & Charpentier was published online at the end of June 2012. The printed issue came out a few weeks later, on August 17 (don’t try to buy it, Science VOLUME 337|ISSUE 6096 is out of stock). No wonder the gene-editing community is in the mood for celebration these days. If you are too, don’t miss the chance to read these articles on CRISPR’s ten-year anniversary!

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Crispy starters from a new journal

Have you heard of GEN Biotechnology? Issue 3 is already out, but I’ve just got my free copy of the inaugural issue (thanks!). Same publisher (Mary Ann Liebert), same executive editor (Kevin Davies), and the same passion for biotech frontiers as The CRISPR Journal. See below some crispy starters from issue number 1:

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The race of Liu’s CRISPR machines

From the base-editing idea first sketched out via email in 2013, to the invention of prime-editing in 2019. From the progeria mutation fixed in mice in 2021 to the upcoming clinical trial for coronary heart disease. The updated story of the most advanced CRISPR tools told by Harvard’s David Liu is not to be missed (here’s the link to the Life Itself conference organized by CNN).