Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize for E. Charpentier an J.A. Doudna

Press Release, Goethe University, Frankfurt.  14 March 2016

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna have been awarded the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize for their work with the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology.  This award is given in honor of Paul Ehrlich to individuals who have made significant contributions in the areas of immunology, cancer research, microbiology, and chemotherapy.

Scientists Breed Pigs Resistant to a Devastating Infection Using CRISPR

Monique Brouillette, Scientific American, 1 March 2016

Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV)is a detrimental infection that affects pigs across the United States, estimated to cost swine producers $600 million annually.  Researchers at the University of Missouri developing pigs resistant to PRRSV via the use of CRISPR/Cas9 technology .  Upon exposure to PRRSV, normal pigs develop symptoms in 5 days.  However, pigs engineered for resistance to the virus did not develop symptoms, and most importantly they did not produce PRRSV antibodies, indicating that the virus was unable to infect the modified pigs.

Caribou Bio Grants IDT Non-Exclusive Rights to Commercialize RUO CRISPR/Cas9 Reagents

GenomeWeb 23 February 2016

Caribou Biosciences, co-founded by Jennifer Doudna of the University of California-Berkley, has granted a non-exclusive license to Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT) to develop and sell CRISPR/Cas9 products for research use only.  Caribou has also licensed the technology to DuPont Pioneer, Sage Labs, and Novartis, however IDT is the first genomics company to obtain a license.

Caribou Biosciences, co-founded by campus researcher Jennifer Doudna, receives intellectual property rights for CRISPR technology

Ericka Shin.  The Daily Californian, 18 February 2016.

Caribou Biosciences, founded by UC Berkley professor Jennifer Doudna, was awarded a patent for the use of CRISPR/Cas9 technology in diagnostic applications.  This technique can be used to detect genomic rearrangements and is much narrower in scope than the CRISPR patents currently under dispute between UC Berkley and the Broad Institute.

Can CRISPR-Cas9 gene drives curb malaria?

Luke Alphey, Nature Biotechnology (2016) 34:149-150

Gene drives use selfish genes that spread through a population regardless of its ability to confer individual fitness.  Multiple researchers have proposed using gene drives to control the spread of vector-borne diseases, such as malaria.  Carried by certain species of mosquitos, malaria is one of the most dangerous human pathogens, gene drives could control or eliminate malaria by modifying mosquitoes to be resistant to malaria or by elimination of mosquito fertility.  This opinion article highlights how CRISPR/Cas9 gene drives would work in theory as well as a discussion on the technological and ethical problems facing gene drives.

Harnessing the Prokaryotic Adaptive Immune System as a Eukaryotic Antiviral Defense

Price, A.A et al.  Trends in Microbiology (2016)

Viral diseases result in acute and chronic illnesses, often with limited treatment options.  CRISPR/Cas9 technology could be used as to treat chronic viral diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, and HPV. However, the research into these applications is still in its infancy.  This review highlights the potential for CRISPR/Cas9 technology to be adapted for use as a eukaryotic antiviral therapy as well as the areas where more research is needed.

The CRISPR-Cas9 Genome Editing Revolution

Jennifer Doudna, AAAS 2016 Annual Meeting Plenary Session.  13 February 2016.

Jennifer Doudna delivered one of the plenary sessions at the 2016 AAAS Annual Meeting on the science, medical applications, and ethical implications of CRISPR/Cas9 technology.  During her talk she discussed how CRISPR/Cas9 was discovered while explaining the mechanism behind Cas9 binding and DNA cleavage.

Could Genetically Engineered Insects Squash Mosquito-Borne Disease?

Science Friday, Public Radio International 12 February 2016

Science Friday host Ira Flatow discusses CRISPR/Cas9 and gene drives and the ethical considerations for their use. Kevin Esvelt, an evolutionary engineer at MIT, and Anthony James, a researcher at the University of California contributed to the discussion.

California stem cell agency may fund tests to edit genes in human embryos

Melody Petersen, 12 February 2016. Los Angeles Times

The California Stem Cell Institute is considering funding experiments on human embryos using CRISPR/Cas9 technology.  Federal law prohibits the use of federal taxes to fund research involving human embryos; however states can use their tax money to fund this kind of research. The California Stem Cell Institute is currently reviewing its ethics guidelines to determine if they will fund research involving human embryos and CRISPR technology.  So far no studies have been funded.

Top US Intelligence Official Calls Gene Editing a WMD Threat

Antonio Regalado, 9 February, 2016.  MIT Technology Review.

James Clapper, US Director of National Intelligence, compared CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing to WMD’s in February of 2016.  His worries stem from the ease at which rogue states could use CRISPR/Cas9 techniques to engineer biological weapons.  To date researchers have not used CRISPR/Cas9 technology to engineer biological weapons, though it does hold the potential for such negative applications.