China’s Genetically Edited babies: What really happened?

A Chinese researcher, He Jiankui, shocked the world two weeks ago when he revealed that the world’s first genetically edited babies had been born. Jiankui claimed to have edited embryos before implanting them into the mother as part of an otherwise routine in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure. Since his bold announcement via YouTube, the scientific community at-large – both in the United States and in … Continue reading China’s Genetically Edited babies: What really happened?

Dogs with muscular dystrophy receive CRISPR treatment: What does this mean for humans?

In an exciting step forward, dogs with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) were treated with the CRISPR genome editor to restore production of the missing protein responsible for the disease. After more studies to prove it is safe and effective long-term, this has the potential to move into clinical trials as a DMD therapy. “[The dogs] showed obvious signs of behavioral improvement – running, jumping – … Continue reading Dogs with muscular dystrophy receive CRISPR treatment: What does this mean for humans?

Buckle Up for Gene Drives of the Future!

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!

Scientists have created sheep that are 0.01% human

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

Edit Thyself: Biohacking in the age of CRISPR

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

A major obstacle to CRISPR/Cas9 – preexisting immunity

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

You are unique – Does your gene editing treatment need to be too?

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: Genome engineering made easy as A-B-C

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

Could Woolly Mammoths Walk Again?

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?

Is Genetic Surgery in My Future?: A conversation with Dr. John Doench about CRISPR and genome editing

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