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 Scienceand 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!
Doudna meets GSK: University of California CRISPR researchers form drug discovery alliance with pharma giant (source Science) From transposons to gene therapy: Hijack of CRISPR defences by selfish genes holds clinical promise, according to Fyodor Urnov (NatureNews&Views) Disaster waiting to happen: Russian biologist plans more CRISPR-edited babies (Nature’s editorial and news)
“Wow! Badass. 13,200 crispr base edits in a single cell! On the way to ‘recoded’ human cells,” tweeted Antonio Regalado before covering the news in MIT Technology Review. To be honest, the radical redesign of species is still sci-fi dystopia, but the paper preprinted by Cory J. Smith et al. in bioRxivis impressive anyway. Continue reading →
Where is Jennifer Doudna? This is the first thought most journalists had – me included – when reading the list of signatories to the call for the moratorium on heritable genome editing just published by Nature. The Boston team is well represented by Lander, Zhang and Liu (nobody would expect George Church to join that call). But the magnificent couple Doudna-Charpentier has conspicuously split up. Continue reading →
Time will tell if it is going to become the preferred enzyme for genome editing or just another useful tool in the expanding CRISPR kit. But the future of CasX looks bright. It is much smaller than the nucleases that have provided a foundation for this technology. Being fewer than a thousand amino acids, it offers clear advantages for delivery in comparison with Cas9, that is over 1,300 Aa. Continue reading →
Chili peppers have happily entered our kitchens with their capsaicinoid content, since Cristoforo Colombo brought then back from Central America. Capsicum species however are labour-intensive and difficult to grow. They are also notoriously recalcitrant to biotechnological intervention. Tomatoes are much handier in comparison. The Capsicum and Solanum clades split at least 19 Mya ago but comparative genomics has revealed that tomatoes retain all the necessary genes for pungency. Why not to harness CRISPR power to turn tomatoes into capsaicinoid biofactories then? Continue reading →
CRISPR contributed to Science’s Breakthrough of the Year and was also nominated for the Breakdown category by the same journal. The second nomination was an easy guess: He Jiankui and its baby-editing claim were also mentioned in Nature’s 10 for 2018. Much more interesting is the decision to celebrate cell-barcoding, the CRISPR-based technique used to track embryo development in stunning detail and over time. Continue reading →