‘Do-it-yourself’ CRISPR kits. How much should we worry?

crisprkit+resize-edFrom the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control website.

«On 24 March 2017, German authorities reported the contamination of a ‘do-it-yourself’ (DIY) Bacterial Gene Engineering CRISPR kit with pathogenic bacteria (risk group 2), including some that are multidrug-resistant with production of Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase (ESBL). The kits are produced in the United States and sold over the internet, targeting non-professional users who want to study biology and life science using similar biotechnology engineering tools found in laboratory settings. In its risk assessment published today, ECDC identifies the risk of infection for users of the kits unaware of the contamination with pathogenic agent as low, as the manipulation of the kit does not involve percutaneous injury-prone manipulations. Continue reading

CRISPR in RNA Wonderland

doudna_crispr_wide-cb9478286d39615ed64291ea95d4cfe022596aa2-s900-c85This week our journey among leading labs takes us to meet a pioneer of gene silencing. Pino Macino contributed to the birth of RNA interference, a field awarded a Nobel prize in 2006, and teaches cell biology at Sapienza University of Rome.  He thinks CRISPR is a great leap forward in understanding the function of genes. Continue reading

Is Italy’s agriculture ready for CRISPR?

viteGenome editing seems tailored for Italian agriculture as DNA can be modified without introducing foreign sequences and without destroying the legal identity of traditional cultivars. CRISPR could help developing plants more resistant to diseases, for example, avoiding at the same time bureaucracy and public perception problems that have slowed the adoption of GMOs. The stakes are high but some hurdles stand in the way. We have interviewed  Michele Morgante, geneticist from the University of Udine and President of the Italian Society of Agricultural Genetics.    Continue reading