There is hardly any day without CRISPR news. February starts with researchers correcting abnormalities associated with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (Science Advances) and performing allele-specific editing in blind mice (bioRxiv, forthcoming in The CRISPR Journal). A repechage from January also: how to get pluripotent stem cells by CRISPRing just one gene (Cell Stem Cell).
It’s called evoCas9, and it’s the most accurate CRISPR editing system yet, according to a study just published in Nature Biotechnology. Researchers at the University of Trento, in northern Italy, induced random mutations in vitro on a piece of a bacterial gene coding for the DNA-cutting enzyme (the REC3 domain of SpCas9) and then screened the mutated variants in vivo in yeast colonies by looking at their color. If the molecular scissors work properly, cutting only the right target, the yeast becomes red, but colonies are white if CRISPR cuts off target. Continue reading
Agbiotech supporters and opponents have been waiting for months for the opinion of the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice, hoping that it would settle the fateful question: do edited plants follow the same legislation as GMOs? The answer, however, does not appear to be conclusive and has been variously interpreted. Nature, The Scientist, and The Guardian are cautiously optimistic, but this Euractiv article is even more interesting. Uncertainty is the prevailing mood in this field. Continue reading
The US Department of Agriculture has given the green light to five CRISPR-edited plants in the last couple of years. See the table below, published by Nature Biotechnology this month. CRISPR is set to make its commercial debut in fields in 2020, with DuPont Pioneer’s waxy corn, and hopes are high that gene editing will give us the chance of rewriting the GMO debate. Continue reading
2017 ends with over 3,000 CRISPR papers indexed by PubMed and 6,810,000 Google’s search results. There is no doubt that 2018 is going to be hot, with the brand new CRISPR Journal launching in 2018 and leading scientists convening at a super CRISPR meeting in Lithuania next June. Clinical trials for genetic diseases such as beta-thalassemia and Leber congenital amaurosis are expected to start, and a forthcoming European Court verdict could be a turning point for the future of edited crops. Happy new year and happy new edit then, surprisingly surprising surprises ahead!