by Jessalyn Ubellacker figure by Jovana Andrejevic Between September 1999 and June 2000, the first human genome was sequenced. Since then, scientists have learned not only to read the human genome, but also to manipulate it, offering unprecedented opportunities to improve human health through genetic alterations. One example of this is gene drive technology, which circumvents classical inheritance patterns to ‘drive’ the presence of particular … Continue reading Buckle Up for Gene Drives of the Future!
For as long as humans have conceived of making hybrid organisms, an ethical debate has been waged over whether or not we should. The pros and cons are vast and poignant. Each new scientific advancement towards making hybrids stokes the fire of controversy. This year, researchers presented work at a conference detailing the most recent hybrid: a sheep-human chimera. To create these chimeras, scientists used … Continue reading Scientists have created sheep that are 0.01% human
by Patrick Griffin figures by Olivia Foster Wincing slightly, Josiah Zayner depressed the plunger of the syringe in his right hand. “This will modify my genes to give me bigger muscles,” he told the crowd—attendees of a biotechnology conference in San Francisco last October. They nervously laughed and then applauded, having witnessed the first instance of someone trying to edit their own genome using a … Continue reading Edit Thyself: Biohacking in the age of CRISPR
The discovery of CRISPR/Cas9 is one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs in recent memory. This technology, first discovered in microbes, enables the cleaving of DNA in order to remove or replace existing genes. For a crash course into the history of CRISPR/Cas9 discovery and development with primary sources please refer to the footnote*. This technology will enable us cure many genetic diseases. Work is currently … Continue reading A major obstacle to CRISPR/Cas9 – preexisting immunity
Many diseases are caused by genetic mutations. Small mutations can cause certain cancers, some cases of blindness, influence heart disease, and many other pathologies. A new and powerful technology called CRISPR-Cas9 aims to correct for these genetic mutations by cutting out a piece of malfunctioning DNA, and replacing it with a piece of genetic material that functions correctly. Biologists first discovered CRISPR-Cas9 in bacteria. Through careful … Continue reading You are unique – Does your gene editing treatment need to be too?
CRISPR 2.0 is causing quite the ruckus in the scientific community. Why? Imagine that you had written a note in permanent marker, but later decided you wanted to change a single word. Without the ability to erase, your options would be limited, and further changes might make the note illegible. New CRISPR technologies, or “base editors,” behave as molecular erasers. These molecular erasers enable you to very precisely … Continue reading CRISPR 2.0: Genome engineering made easy as A-B-C
The Church lab at Harvard University recently announced plans to create a hybrid mammoth and elephant. Using a technology called CRISPR, researchers in the Church lab have learned how to insert mammoth DNA into the cells of modern elephants. Theoretically, this could set the stage for developing an embryo with DNA from both a modern elephant and the woolly mammoth. The group would like to … Continue reading Could Woolly Mammoths Walk Again?
by Christopher Gerry figures by Mike MacArthur The last few years have seen an explosion in our capacity to study the human genetic code. In particular, a technology called CRISPR/Cas9 has been at the forefront of many of these advances, capturing the imagination of scientists and the attention of the general public. CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is a type of bacterial self-defense … Continue reading Is Genetic Surgery in My Future?: A conversation with Dr. John Doench about CRISPR and genome editing
The first clinical trial using the gene editing technique CRISPR was given the go-ahead by panel from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). The trial is aimed at determining if the technique is safe for use on human subjects. As there is much we have yet to learn about genes and their expression, it is a valid concern that modifying DNA in humans could … Continue reading First Human Trial of Gene Editing Technique CRISPR Approved
Advances in gene editing technology have spurred considerable progress towards a treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Although the disease is rare – affecting roughly 1 in 5,000 male births – its consequences are devastating: patients are confined to wheelchairs at an early age and often succumb to heart or respiratory failure in their twenties or thirties. No treatments are currently available, but three separate … Continue reading Gene editing emerges as a new therapeutic strategy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy