Scientists at the Technical University of Dortmund have grown a type of tobacco containing 99.7% less nicotine. CRISPR was used to disable certain plant enzymes aiding in nicotine production, potentially creating a tobacco to help users quit smoking.
Russian biologist Denis Rebrikov has announced his intentions to produce further gene-edited babies, ignoring the scientific consensus that this should not be done until an ethical framework is constructed to regulate the science involved. Rebrikov’s plans could occur before the end of the year if he receives approval in time.
He Jiankui, the Chinese scientist who created the first gene-edited twin children last year, could have unknowingly shortened their lives by more than 1.9 years. A study into the DNA and death records of 400,000 volunteers in the UK Biobank found the genetic mutations to gene CCR5 were “of quite strong effect.”
Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have proposed gold nanoparticles as a new way to deliver CRISPR Cas-12a to cells. These nanoparticles can be filled with the necessary CRISPR components to edit genes cleanly, with between 10% and 20% of targeted cells successfully edited during lab studies. No toxic side effects were found from the process.
Two molecules which switch off CRISPR could be used to make gene editing therapies safer in the future. Harvard University’s Amit Choudhary and his colleagues said the molecules could stop CRISPR making unintended changes to DNA, potentially harming the individual.
A team from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Broad Institute have used CRISPR-Cas9 to identify key genes required for cancer survival. Over 18,000 genes from 30 different cancer types were screened, a computational framework then developed to prioritise the 600 most promising drug development targets.
Scientists at the University of California San Diego have created a new version of a gene drive which could lead to spreading specific, favourably genetic variants through a population. This “allelic drive” uses a guide RNA to direct CRISPR to cut undesired gene variants and replace them with better versions of the gene.
An international team of scientists has developed a new gene editing tool which goes beyond the usual mechanisms of CRISPR, acting instead as a “shredder” which can delete large stretches of DNA with programmable targeting. The technology was also shown to work in human cells for the first time.
For the first time, CRISPR-Cas9 has been combined with electronic graphene transistors to create a new handheld device which can detect specific mutations in the genome within minutes. The device can be used to quickly diagnose genetic disorders and diseases or determine the accuracy of gene-editing techniques.
The scientists of seven nations have called for a halt to gene-editing experiments seeking to alter heritable traits in human babies.
A neuron-optimised CRISPR-Cas9 activation system has been used by scientists to regulate genes in a rat brain for the first time. This technique could lead to researchers being able to probe genetic influences on brain health and disease in model organisms which more closely resemble humans.
New information from China has suggested that the twins recently created using CRISPR gene-editing technology to make them HIV-resistance could also develop genetically-enhanced brains.
Researchers from the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) have determined a new way to deliver DNA editing tools so that the presence of their proteins in cells is reduced, in what they have called a “hit and run” approach.