CRISPR & Genetic Engineering News and Discussions

weatheriscool
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RNA breakthrough creates crops that can grow 50% more potatoes, rice

by University of Chicago
https://phys.org/news/2021-07-rna-break ... -rice.html
Manipulating RNA can allow plants to yield dramatically more crops, as well as increasing drought tolerance, announced a group of scientists from the University of Chicago, Peking University and Guizhou University.

In initial tests, adding a gene encoding for a protein called FTO to both rice and potato plants increased their yield by 50% in field tests. The plants grew significantly larger, produced longer root systems and were better able to tolerate drought stress. Analysis also showed that the plants had increased their rate of photosynthesis.

"The change really is dramatic," said University of Chicago Prof. Chuan He, who together with Prof. Guifang Jia at Peking University, led the research. "What's more, it worked with almost every type of plant we tried it with so far, and it's a very simple modification to make."
Xyls
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The anti-GMO crowd are gonna lose their shit.
weatheriscool
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Scientists boost gene knockdown in human cells with CRISPR-Cas13 using chemically modified guide RNAs

by New York University
https://phys.org/news/2021-08-scientist ... human.html
In the latest of ongoing efforts to expand technologies for modifying genes and their expression, researchers in the lab of Neville Sanjana at New York University (NYU) and the New York Genome Center (NYGC) have developed chemically modified guide RNAs for a CRISPR system that targets RNA instead of DNA. These chemically modified guide RNAs significantly enhance the ability to target—trace, edit, and/or knockdown—RNA in human cells.

In a study published today in Cell Chemical Biology, the team explores a range of different RNA modifications and details how the modified guides increase efficiencies of CRISPR activity from two- to five-fold over unmodified guides. They also show that the optimized chemical modifications extend CRISPR targeting activity from 48 hours to four days. The researchers worked in collaboration with scientists at Synthego Corporation and New England BioLabs, bringing together a diverse team with expertise in enzyme purification and RNA chemistry. To apply these optimized chemical modifications, the research team targeted cell surface receptors in human T cells from healthy donors and a "universal" segment of the genetic sequence shared by all known variants of the RNA virus SARS-CoV-2, which is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.
weatheriscool
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New CRISPR/Cas9 technique corrects cystic fibrosis in cultured human stem cells
https://phys.org/news/2021-08-crisprcas ... tured.html
by Hubrecht Institute
Researchers from the group of Hans Clevers (Hubrecht Institute) corrected mutations that cause cystic fibrosis in cultured human stem cells. In collaboration with the UMC Utrecht and Oncode Institute, they used a technique called prime editing to replace the 'faulty' piece of DNA with a healthy piece. The study, published in Life Science Alliance on August 9, shows that prime editing is safer than the conventional CRISPR/Cas9 technique. "We have for the first time demonstrated that this technique really works and can be safely applied in human stem cells to correct cystic fibrosis."

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is one of the most prevalent genetic diseases worldwide and has grave consequences for the patient. The mucus in the lungs, throat and intestines is sticky and thick, which causes blockages in organs. Although treatments are available to dilute the mucus and prevent inflammations, CF is not yet curable. However, a new study from the group of Hans Clevers (Hubrecht Institute) in collaboration with the UMC Utrecht and Oncode Institute offers new hope.
weatheriscool
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Researchers develop an engineered 'mini' CRISPR genome editing system
https://phys.org/news/2021-09-mini-crispr-genome.html
The common analogy for CRISPR gene editing is that it works like molecular scissors, cutting out select sections of DNA. Stanley Qi, assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford University, likes that analogy, but he thinks it's time to reimagine CRISPR as a Swiss Army knife.

"CRISPR can be as simple as a cutter, or more advanced as a regulator, an editor, a labeler or imager. Many applications are emerging from this exciting field," said Qi, who is also an assistant professor of chemical and systems biology in the Stanford School of Medicine and a Stanford ChEM-H institute scholar.

The many different CRISPR systems in use or being clinically tested for gene therapy of diseases in the eye, liver and brain, however, remain limited in their scope because they all suffer from the same flaw: they're too large and, therefore, too hard to deliver into cells, tissues or living organisms.
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Yuli Ban
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Xyls wrote: Fri Jul 23, 2021 3:46 am The anti-GMO crowd are gonna lose their shit.
They make certain good points about the questionable nature of the companies behind GMOs, but it's true that the LCDs are programmed to kneejerk hate anything genetically modified.
And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
weatheriscool
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New programmable gene editing proteins found outside of CRISPR systems
https://phys.org/news/2021-09-programma ... rispr.html
by Jennifer Michalowski, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Within the last decade, scientists have adapted CRISPR systems from microbes into gene editing technology, a precise and programmable system for modifying DNA. Now, scientists at MIT's McGovern Institute and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have discovered a new class of programmable DNA modifying systems called OMEGAs (Obligate Mobile Element Guided Activity), which may naturally be involved in shuffling small bits of DNA throughout bacterial genomes.

These ancient DNA-cutting enzymes are guided to their targets by small pieces of RNA. While they originated in bacteria, they have now been engineered to work in human cells, suggesting they could be useful in the development of gene editing therapies, particularly as they are small (~30% the size of Cas9), making them easier to deliver to cells than bulkier enzymes. The discovery, reported in the journal Science, provides evidence that natural RNA-guided enzymes are among the most abundant proteins on earth, pointing toward a vast new area of biology that is poised to drive the next revolution in genome editing technology.
caltrek
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How Colossal Sold Investors on a Quest to Resurrect a Woolly Mammoth
by Emma Betuel
September 13, 2021

https://techcrunch.com/2021/09/13/how-c ... y-mammoth/

Introduction:
(TechCrunch) There are a growing number of companies interested in CRISPR’s potential to upend medicine. It’s probably safe to say there’s only one company interested in using the gene-editing system to create a living, breathing woolly mammoth. Or, at least, something pretty close to it.

That’s the primary mission of a new company called Colossal. Co-founded by maverick geneticist George Church and entrepreneur Ben Lamm, the former CEO of Hypergiant, the company aims to bring one of those creatures back to life using CRISPR to edit the genomes of existing Asian elephants. In that sense the creature would be very similar to a woolly mammoth, but would be more like an elephant-mammoth hybrid.

It’s a project that Church’s lab has been invested in for years. But now, Church and Lamm have managed to sell investors on the idea that bringing back a mammoth is more than a science-fiction project.

Today Colossal announced its launch and a $15 million seed round led by Thomas Tull, former CEO of Legendary Entertainment (the company responsible for the likes of Dune, Jurassic World, the Dark Knight). The round includes investments from Breyer Capital, Draper Associates, Animal Capital, At One Ventures, Jazz Ventures, Jeff Wilke, Bold Capital, Global Space Ventures, Climate Capital, Winklevoss Capital, Liquid2 Ventures, Capital Factory, Tony Robbins and First Light Capital.

“These two are a powerhouse team who have the ability to completely shift our understanding of modern genetics while developing innovative technologies that not only help bring back lost species, but advance the entire industry,” Robbins tells TechCrunch. “I am proud to be an investor in their journey.”
Image
Image Credit: Colossal
weatheriscool
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RNA-targeting enzyme expands the CRISPR toolkit
https://phys.org/news/2021-09-rna-targe ... olkit.html
by Jennifer Michalowski, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Researchers at MIT's McGovern Institute for Brain Research have discovered a bacterial enzyme that they say could expand scientists' CRISPR toolkit, making it easy to cut and edit RNA with the kind of precision that, until now, has only been available for DNA editing. The enzyme, called Cas7-11, modifies RNA targets without harming cells, suggesting that in addition to being a valuable research tool, it provides a fertile platform for therapeutic applications.

"This new enzyme is like the Cas9 of RNA," says McGovern Fellow Omar Abudayyeh, referring to the DNA-cutting CRISPR enzyme that has revolutionized modern biology by making DNA editing fast, inexpensive, and exact. "It creates two precise cuts and doesn't destroy the cell in the process, like other enzymes," he adds.

Up until now, only one other family of RNA-targeting enzymes, Cas13, has extensively been developed for RNA targeting applications. However, when Cas13 recognizes its target, it shreds any RNAs in the cell, destroying the cell along the way. Like Cas9, Cas7-11 is part of a programmable system; it can be directed at specific RNA targets using a CRISPR guide. Abudayyeh, McGovern Fellow Jonathan Gootenberg, and their colleagues discovered Cas7-11 through a deep exploration of the CRISPR systems found in the microbial world. Their findings were recently reported in the journal Nature.
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