by Valentina Lagomarsino figures by Sean Wilson Nearly four months ago, Chinese researcher He Jiankui announced that he had edited the genes of twin babies with CRISPR. CRISPR, also known as CRISPR/Cas9, can be thought of as “genetic scissors” that can be programmed to edit DNA in any cell. Last year, scientists used CRISPR to cure dogs of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. This was a huge step forward for … Continue reading Arrival of Gene-Edited Babies: What lies ahead?
In order to feed every human being on the planet by 2050, the world will need to produce far more food. One difficulty farmers face is finding enough fresh water. A group of scientists led by Katarzyna Glowacka, from the University of Illinois, Urbana, may have found a potential way to save farmers water. The group’s technique hinges on the stomata of plants. Stomata are … Continue reading Thirsty Plants: Can plants be genetically modified to need less water?
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
by Allison Baker figures by Lillian Horin The Arctic apple is the juiciest newcomer to produce aisles. It has the special ability to resist browning after being cut (Figure 1), which protects its flavor and nutritional value. Browning also contributes to food waste by causing unappealing bruising on perfectly edible apples. Food waste, especially for fruits and vegetables, is a major problem worldwide; nearly half … Continue reading Arctic Apples: A fresh new take on genetic engineering
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
A medical team at Johns Hopkins University genetically engineered a common cold virus to deposit a gene when injected into the human eye. This gene codes for a protein that binds to VEGF, another protein whose activity in old age contributes to vision loss (a disease called AMD or wet AMD). This small clinical study’s preliminary results show that just one small dose is potent enough to improve a patient’s vision loss. Continue reading Genetically engineered viruses: a medicine of the future
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
Scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute have created a fast-growing bacterial cell with a nearly-minimal number of genes necessary for survival – just 473 in total. These genes were entirely synthesized – not transplanted from a grown organism – and the creation of such a cell may allow big steps forward in gene function identification and efficient mass-production of biological molecules. Continue reading Streamlined 473-Gene Bacteria May Lead to Discoveries, Biochemical Production
by Aseda Tena figures by Shannon McArdel 122,621 people in the United States are currently eligible to receive a transplanted organ, but only about 30,000 transplants are performed each year due to a shortage of available organs. As a result, approximately 22 people die each day waiting for a transplant (1). One exciting area of research, xenotransplantation, aims to increase organ availability by using pig … Continue reading Xenotransplantation: Can pigs save human lives?