By now it seems official. The first CRISPR plant to debut in the US market will not be a commodity for industry or intensive livestock farming, as was the case with classic GMOs in the 1990s. This time genetic innovation enters on tiptoe, with a food product designed for discerning consumers. A new type of salad, as nutrient-rich as a wild misticanza but without the bitter notes that usually relegate brassicas to foods to be eaten cooked (see here).Continue reading
Category Archives: News
Check out the pangenome, the graph of us all
We used to imagine DNA as the book of life, the code, the Rosetta stone of Homo sapiens. But the repertoire of metaphors needs updating. Today, our species portrait has taken on the appearance of a network of nodes and relationships. Welcome to the age of the pangenome: the collective genome (pan in Greek means everything) that aspires to become more and more complex, plural, cosmopolitan and inclusive.Continue reading
Gender equity meets CRISPR
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.Continue reading
Cholesterol down – ready set edit!
Last week Verve Therapeutics dosed the first patient with a candidate treatment for hypercholesterolemia. This is exciting news for a couple of reasons. First, the technology used: CRISPR 2.0, i.e., base-editing is hitting the clinic (see the news in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery). Second, this is a leap forward into common diseases (“CRISPR for the masses”, says The Washington Post) and a training session for the real challenge, which is to “stop the biggest killer on Earth”, cardiovascular disease (MIT Technology Review).
Food, health and IP rights – CRISPR latest news
Two papers and a news item not to be missed. The first one is “Genome-edited powdery mildew resistance in wheat without growth penalties” published in Nature by a Chinese team led by Caixia Gao.Continue reading
CRISPR children, how are they?
Lulu and Nana are three years old. Amy is the name Nature Biotechnology uses to refer to the third CRISPR baby, born in late spring-early summer 2019. Their health is a closely held secret, that Vivien Marx has investigated for the journal’s December issue. “A full understanding of the health risks faced by the children due to their edited genomes may lie beyond the reach of current technology”, she writes. Despite or maybe because of that, the news feature is well worth reading. Below are a few points:Continue reading
Doudna in the time of Covid
CRISPR in the news
CAR-T cell therapy meets CRISPR. See the results from the first US trial of gene editing in patients with advanced cancer, just published by Carl June and colleagues in Science, together with a perspective by Jennifer Hamilton and Jennifer Doudna and a piece of news by Jennifer Couzin-Frankel. We still don’t know if edited T cells are effective against cancer, but this Phase 1 clinical trial suggests the approach is safe and feasible.
RNA editing takes off. Take a look at the news feature by Sara Reardon in Nature. It’s a four pages introduction to ADAR, an alternative to CRISPR for flexible, reversible therapies.
CRISPR-baby sentence, too little info to comment?
The year 2019 ended with three years in jail sentenced to He Jiankui for illegal medical practice. The CRISPR-baby scandal’s epilogue was applauded on twitter by a few leading scientists such as Craig Venter and Fyodor Urnov and decried on STAT News by the controversial biohacker Josiah Zayner. Most experts, however, stayed silent.
As stressed by the Washington Post, “the judicial proceedings were not public, and outside experts said it is hard to know what to make of the punishment without the release of the full investigative report or extensive knowledge of Chinese law and the conditions under which He will be incarcerated.”
CRISPR at its hottest
The picture shows a moment in the sample-collecting effort leading to this Pnas paper about a novel heat-tolerant CRISPR enzyme called IgnaviCas9. Exploring nature’s molecular diversity in extreme environmental conditions such as Yellowstone hot springs can yield exciting discoveries and applications.Continue reading