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posted by martyb on Wednesday April 14, @04:07AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the like-Jekyll-and-Hyde dept.

Genetic Engineering 2.0: An On-Off Switch for Gene Editing:

Over the past decade, the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system has revolutionized genetic engineering, allowing scientists to make targeted changes to organisms' DNA. While the system could potentially be useful in treating a variety of diseases, CRISPR-Cas9 editing involves cutting DNA strands, leading to permanent changes to the cell's genetic material.

Now, in a paper published online in Cell on April 9, researchers describe a new gene editing technology called CRISPRoff that allows researchers to control gene expression with high specificity while leaving the sequence of the DNA unchanged. Designed by Whitehead Institute Member Jonathan Weissman, University of California San Francisco assistant professor Luke Gilbert, Weissman lab postdoc James Nuñez and collaborators, the method is stable enough to be inherited through hundreds of cell divisions, and is also fully reversible.

"The big story here is we now have a simple tool that can silence the vast majority of genes," says Weissman, who is also a professor of biology at MIT and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "We can do this for multiple genes at the same time without any DNA damage, with great deal of homogeneity, and in a way that can be reversed. It's a great tool for controlling gene expression."

The project was partially funded by a 2017 grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to create a reversible gene editor. "Fast forward four years [from the initial grant], and CRISPRoff finally works as envisioned in a science fiction way," says co-senior author Gilbert. "It's exciting to see it work so well in practice."

Journal Reference:
James K. Nuñez, Jin Chen, Greg C. Pommier, et al. Genome-wide programmable transcriptional memory by CRISPR-based epigenome editing, Cell, (DOI: DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.03.025)

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 14, @05:28AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 14, @05:28AM (#1137320)

    WE doggo's galactic federation will take over.

    Don't worry, yous hoomans will be well fed, clothed, woof over their heads, and stuff.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 14, @08:06AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 14, @08:06AM (#1137354)

      I, for one, welcome out Doggo overlords!*

      * At least they will treat us better than cat-people overlords, that we will engineer with this tech.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 14, @10:34AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 14, @10:34AM (#1137379)

    Implant this on-off switch in whole populations, say by way of a vaccine, and then activate it to remove unwanteds... even if you only eliminated 5% of Republicans you'd still have an electoral advantage. Well played, Biden, well played.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 21, @06:20AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 21, @06:20AM (#1137467)

      How about a cure for multiple sclerosis? Or breast cancer?

      How about an injection changing your eye color and making your hair curly? Or non-curly?

      How about switching off cell replication in a targeted person without them ever realising it?

      How about an otherwise totally silent virus that makes all future babies black instead of white/asian/whatever???

      "I am become death, destroyer of worlds" -- J.Robert Oppenheimer after the first nuclear explosion. Tread carefully, people. Do go, but tread very carefully.