Could CRISPR be Used as Antimicrobials?

Bikard, D., Barrangou, R., (2017) Current Opinion in Microbiology, 37:155-160.

Self-targeting bacteria with CRISPR usually proves fatal.  This observation could lead to a new type of antimicrobial where the CRISPR/Cas system is introduced to fight infection.  This review discusses how CRISPR/Cas could target bacterial infections, as well as how the system may be delivered to the infection site.

CRISPR Used to Alter Flower Color

David Nield, Science Alert, 9 September 2017,

The Japanese morning glory plant has traditionally had violet flowers, however using CRISPR to disrupt a single gene, scientists have altered the flower color to white.  White morning glories can be found; however, it took 850 years for the white version to appear. CRISPR accomplished the task in less than 12 months.  This is the first time CRISPR has been used to alter flower color in higher plants.

dCas9 Pull Down Isolates Chromatin Cis Factors

Liu, X., et. al. (2017) Cell 170:1028-1043.

Many genes are regulated by cis-regulatory elements, though the molecular composition of these elements remains unknown.  In a new study published in Cell, Liu et. al. describe a new technique called CAPTURE (CRISPR affinity purification in situ of regulatory elements) that uses a biotin labeled dCas9 to isolate cis regulatory elements in an unbiased fashion, allowing for insights into genome structure and function.

Researchers Crowd Source CRISPR On/Off Switch

Stanford Medicine News Center, 29 August 2017,

Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have created a new online computer game called Eterna where players design RNA molecules that could act as an on/off switch for Cas9.  Molecular biologists at Stanford will then create the most promising molecules and test them in living cells. Researchers aim to have 100,000 players contribute 10 solutions each.  As the research team tests the molecules in the lab, they will provide information to the players for further refinement.

Ethical and Regulatory CRISPR Quagmire in the US

Julia Franz and Katie Hiler, WUNC Science Friday, 27 August 2017,

Despite the results of August’s CRISPR edited embryo paper being called into question, its publication has resulted in an increase in the ethics debate.  Scientists agree that CRISPR gene editing will continue to improve and society must grapple with the ethical problems.  Ira Flatow sits down with the author of the August Nature article and with Kelly Ormond, genetics professor at Stanford University and member of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, to discuss the results and how to proceed.

Doubts Raised About Human Embryo Editing Paper

Dieter et. al. (2017) BioRxiv, 181255.

On 02 August 2017, a Nature article claimed a major breakthrough in CRISPR genome editing.  Researchers from around the world, including the United States, announced that they had successfully corrected viable human embryos heterozygous for the MYBPC3 mutation that results in heart disease, without mosaicism.  Recently, the results of this article have been called into question with the publishing of a BioRxiv article.  The authors of the new paper identify other possible mechanisms that could have caused the observed results and suggest additional experiments to effectively prove CRISPR gene editing.

A Quick Guide to Generating CRISPR Modified Mice

Huijbers I.J. (2017) Methods Mol Biol 1642:1-19

Attempting CRISPR gene editing for the first time can be a daunting task.  While much simpler than previous gene editing technologies, there are still many methods that must be compared.  This review seeks to answer essential questions that may arise during the generation of CRISPR modified mice, covering the latest in cell culture and gene editing tools.

Could CRISPR End Sickle Cell Anemia?

Emily Mullin, MIT Technology Review, 23 August 2017,

Sickle cell anemia affects approximately 100,000 individuals in the US – mostly of African or Hispanic descent – and results in a significantly reduced life expectancy.  While the cause of sickle cell anemia has been known for 100 years, the genetic nature of the disease has made it difficult to treat.  With the development of the CRISPR/Cas gene editing system, sickle cell patients are hopeful that a cure may be possible.  This article discusses this possibility with sickle cell patients as well as examining what a treatment may look like.

CRISPRcon Takes UC-Berkeley by Storm

Kevin Davies, GEN News, 17 August 2017,

Over two days, hundreds of scientists met at the University of California-Berkeley to discuss CRISPR technology.  Without a doubt, the most popular discussions were ethical, regarding human germline editing and how the science had entered the popular space with Jennifer Doudna highlighting the many popular science headlines covering the CRISPR/Cas revolution.

NPR Science Reporter Rob Stein Gets an Inside Look at Human Embryo Gene Editing

Rob Stein, NPR, 18 August 2017,

Rob Stein meets with Amy Koski of the Oregon Health and Science University to discuss how human embryo editing is done, and the ethical implications of this research.