A vertical farm for CRISPR food

Do you want it locally grown, water-saving and pesticide-free? Urban agriculture might suit you, with a little help from gene editing. Zachary Lippman’s team has already succeeded with Solanaceae fruit crops, optimizing tomatoes and ground-cherries for indoor production (see their paper in Nature Biotechnology).

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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.

Singing in the Lab

If you enjoyed “Bring me a gene” by Tim Blais and wished your friends “A Merry Little CRISPR”, be sure not to miss “The Patent” by Rob Nichols. It’s a parody of “Obedient Servant” from the musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda, “based on the actual events of the CRISPR Revolutionary War”. For an IP update, please see this press-release announcing the 20th CRISPR patent awarded to UC Berkeley.

George Church futures

The new coronavirus spreading in China is one more reason to hear from the multi-talented geneticist how we could make our life virus-proof with DNA recoding and other exciting stuff coming from the Church Lab.

The Leapsmag video “Defeating nature’s deadliest killers with Harvard scientist George Church”

The CRISPR Journal podcast “George Church, triple threat (reader/writer/editor)”

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.”

An activist’s view on agbiotech & sustainability

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Danielle Nierenberg is President of Food Tank and an influential voice on food issues. She interviewed hundreds and hundreds of farmers, researchers, government leaders, NGOs and journalists in 50 plus countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America over the last several years. We asked her three questions for an article on sustainable innovations to be published in Italy.

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EU Citizens’ Initiative for fair rules on NBT

The initiative to foster responsible agricultural innovation in the EU was started by a group of young Master’s students from eight EU member states, with backgrounds in food safety, food law, environmental studies, plant sciences, economics and biotechnology. They met at Wageningen University and joined forces to urge the European Commission to update the legislation on plant breeding. Please visit https://www.growscientificprogress.org/ to know more and sign up.

German Academies call for new GM rules

Picture: Sisters of Design

The following is an excerpt from the news section of the Leopoldina website. Please note that DFG stands for the German research funding organization.

The Leopoldina, the Union of German Academies and the DFG have drafted recommendations for ensuring science-based regulation of genome edited plants in the EU. These recommendations include the amendment of European genetic engineering legislation.

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