L. Val Giddings, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation
Note: This timeline was last updated on September 9, 2020.
Hardly a day goes by without new reports of advances in gene editing. It can be very hard to keep up, even for those following closely. This compilation brings together a list of salient events and media coverage over the last three decades. It is not complete or encyclopedic, but eclectic, focused primarily on CRISPR, and, we hope, illuminating. It will be updated as developments warrant.
For a related catalog of events specifically related to CRISPR babies, please see https://medium.com/@ITIF/crispr-babies-a-catalogue-of-noteworthy-commentary-and-analysis-b50fb0468974.
4 August 2020 Lim Yu South Korea’s Toolgen opens the path to the soybean seed business with genetic scissors https://www.hankyung.com/it/article/2020080424591
“Soybeans made by Tulgen using genetically modified scissors were determined by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) that they were not genetically modified foods (GMOs). It is analyzed that it is a signal to the full-scale seed business using genetic scissors.”
1 September 2020 Daniel Norero Chile poised to tackle food shortages and climate change with ‘Golden Apple’ and other CRISPR-edited crops https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2020/09/01/chile-developing-a-golden-apple-and-fruits-that-grow-in-the-desert/
“Chile’s intense political unrest exacerbated by months of COVID-19 quarantine has temporarily overshadowed a relentless environmental, farming crisis: an intense drought — the worst in the country’s history — now moving into its tenth year. The last few months have offered a temporary respite, with rains reaching average levels. But Chile is in desperate need of longer term responses to worsening climactic conditions that threaten to intensify existing food shortages and jeopardize the nation’s vital agriculture industry.
Biochemist and president of the Chilean Society of Plant Biology Dr. Claudia Stange believes she is part of the solution. Climate change is here to stay, she believes, so it’s time to mobilize genetic technology and adapt. Stange and her colleagues at the University of Chile are gene editing new varieties of apple, kiwi and tomato to improve their nutritional content and resistance to drought and saline soils.”
31 August 2020 Julia Marinho Manipulação do DNA é a base da nova revolução alimentar (DNA Manipulation is the basis of the a new food revolution) https://www.tecmundo.com.br/ciencia/177160-manipulacao-dna-base-nova-revolucao-alimentar.htm
“Controlling the genetic pathways may be the key to achieving more nutritious and resistant vegetables to both pests and elements, such as cold and drought. Peres is one of thousands of researchers around the world, in hundreds of research and development laboratories, working in what is considered the next “food revolution”.”
31 August 2020 Roberto Bartolini Se l’Europa vuole un’agricoltura sostenibile e produttiva, deve togliere i vincoli alla nuova genética (If Europe wants sustainable and productive agriculture, it must remove the constraints of the new genetics) http://www.ilnuovoagricoltore.it/se-leuropa-vuole-unagricoltura-sostenibile-e-produttiva-deve-togliere-i-vincoli-alla-nuova-genetica/
“From today, all those involved in agriculture at all levels must feel committed to a common battle that aims to change the denialist position of Europe against new methods of genetic improvement, which are the only ones capable of allowing farmers to pursue the priority objectives indicated by Europe itself. It is inconceivable that the European council, parliament and commission do not understand the obvious difference between GM plants and plants obtained with gene editing, where the introduction of targeted modifications in the DNA are very similar to those that occur in nature.”
25 August 2020 Iowa State University Iowa State Researchers Win Grant to Develop Plant Gene Editing Technique to Improve Switchgrass, Sorghum https://www.cals.iastate.edu/news/releases/iowa-state-researchers-win-grant-develop-plant-gene-editing-technique-improve
“A new project supported by a two-year, $300,000 grant from the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, will explore the potential to employ viruses to overcome the usual tissue culture barriers that impede gene editing in sorghum and switchgrass.”
25 August 2020 Michael Wolf Pairwise Gets Greenlight from USDA for CRISPR-Engineered Mustard Greens https://thespoon.tech/pairwise-gets-greenlight-from-usda-for-crispr-engineered-mustard-greens/
“While health benefits of mustard greens have long been known, the strong bitter taste and pungent smell has kept this leafy green from going as mainstream as lettuce or kale.
But that could change soon. That’s because CRISPR-focused produce startup Pairwise got approval in mid-August from the USDA for their gene-edited version of Brassica juncea, more commonly known as mustard greens.”
19 August 2020 Lluis Montoliu La revolución CRISPR. Oportunidades y riesgos de la edición genética (The CRISPR Revolution — Opportunities and risks of gene editing) https://montoliu.naukas.com/2020/08/19/la-revolucion-crispr-oportunidades-y-riesgos-de-la-edicion-genetica/
“The CRISPR revolution is a good CRISPR documentary with a recommended vision, made from a European perspective, which reviews potential applications of gene editing not only to cure patients with serious diseases but also to generate new varieties of plants better adapted to the environment. or with beneficial characteristics.”
18 August 2020 Howard “AV” Roth “Opinion: We need USDA in driver’s seat on gene-edited livestock” https://www.agri-pulse.com/articles/14286-opinion-we-need-usda-in-drivers-seat-on-gene-edited-livestock
“For more than two years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been locked in a regulatory tug of war over authority on genetic editing in livestock. Unfortunately, U.S. livestock farmers are caught in the middle, allowing China, Brazil, Canada and other global competitors to move ahead in the race to utilize this new technology… Regulatory overreach by the FDA is preventing the United States from realizing the benefit of this promising technology. Even without a statutory mandate, the FDA is claiming regulatory authority over gene editing in food-producing animals. FDA oversight will treat any gene-edited animal as a living animal drug — and potentially every farm raising them a drug manufacturing facility. Under FDA regulation, gene editing faces an impractical, lengthy and expensive approval process, inhibiting the necessary investment to develop this technology. USDA should have primary authority for new genetic technologies used in livestock. The agency already has a review process in place for genetic editing in plants under its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which can be adapted for livestock.”
13 August 2020 Robert Arnason EU countries encouraged to accept gene edited crops https://www.producer.com/2020/08/eu-countries-encouraged-to-accept-gene-edited-crops/
“Europe is asking its farmers to use fewer pesticides and less fertilizer, while still producing the same amount of food. If European governments were willing to adopt the latest agricultural innovations, like gene editing and precision ag, reaching such a goal might be possible. Difficult, but possible. In late July, researchers from 132 scientific institutions published an open letter about the importance of genome editing — a process used to insert or delete genes from a plant’s DNA. The scientists urged the European Commission to permit the use of gene editing for agricultural crops. If that doesn’t happen, European farmers will continue to fall behind the rest of the world, they said.”
13 August 2020 Mollie Schubert Could CRISPR-engineered crops help solve the world’s food crisis? https://www.newfoodmagazine.com/article/115807/crispr-engineered-crops/
“Dr Feng Zhang, a pioneer in plant genome editing, is developing CRISPR-modified plants as a potential solution to the challenge of feeding our rapidly growing population. Here, CRISPR technology expert, Mollie Schubert, discusses his work.”
11 August 2020 Shaily Tyagi et al. Genome Editing for Resistance to Insect Pests: An Emerging Tool for Crop Improvement https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsomega.0c01435#.
“Through this Review, we embark upon the conglomeration of various genome editing strategies that can be and are being used to design insect pest resistance in plants. Case studies and novel crop-based approaches that reiterate the successful use of these tools in insects as well as in plants are highlighted. Further, the Review also provides implications for the requirement of a specific regulatory framework and risk assessment of the edited crops. Genome editing toward insect pest management is here to stay, provided uncompromising efforts are made toward the identification of amiable target genes.”
3 August 2020 Catherine Shaffer CRISPR Startups Give Genome Editing Several New Twists: Base editors, exonucleases, and other refinements enable advances in pathogen recognition, antibacterial development, genetic medicine, xenotransplantation, and agriculture https://www.genengnews.com/insights/crispr-startups-give-genome-editing-several-new-twists/
“Early CRISPR startups — such as Editas Medicine, CRISPR Therapeutics, and Intellia Therapeutics — went public and have since prospered. And now a new crop of startups is showing that there’s still plenty of room for innovation. Each of the new CRISPR startups features a unique twist on the original CRISPR formula. Examples of CRISPR twists include exotic enzymes and novel, sophisticated editing mechanisms. In this article, we present five CRISPR startups. Their applications range from making vegetables taste better to diagnosing COVID-19 in low-resource settings.”
3 August 2020 Stuart A. Newman Engineering future people would be a disaster https://medium.com/@newman_15822/engineering-future-people-would-be-a-disaster-b44835d4af7f
“Modifying genes shows promise in curing medical conditions in sick people. Should it be used to make irreversible changes in people who don’t yet exist? Current research suggests that this would be a big mistake.”
31 July 2020 N’dea Yancey-Bragg, Scientists genetically alter squids for the first time in ‘game-changing’ breakthrough https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/07/31/scientists-genetically-alter-squid-first-time-history-study/5553499002/.
“A team of researchers have genetically altered a squid for the first time in history, an important step in the study of cephalopods. Researchers at the Marine Biological Laboratory used CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing to eliminate a gene in embryos of the squid Doryteuthis pealeii, which removed the pigment from their eye and skin cells…”
30 July Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council Ask the Experts: Genome Editing with Alison Van Eenennaam https://monitoring.bonuseventus.org/2020/08/12/video-researcher-alison-van-eenennaam-answers-questions-on-genome-editing-in-animals/
YouTube video Q&A with Dr. Van Eenennaam, who runs the University of California-Davis’ Animal Genomics and Biotechnology Laboratory, responds to questions from UCon her research on hornless bulls and other gene-edited animal developments.
30 July 2020 Vanessa Bates Ramirez A Year After Gene Therapy, Boys With Muscular Dystrophy Are Healthier and Stronger https://singularityhub.com/2020/07/30/a-year-after-getting-gene-therapy-boys-with-muscular-dystrophy-are-healthier-and-stronger/#.Xz1k28s_QTk.twitter
“Two and a half years ago, a study published in Science Advances detailed how the gene editing tool CRISPR/Cas-9 repaired genetic mutations related to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). The study was a proof of concept, and used induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).
But now a similar treatment has not only been administered to real people, it has worked and made a difference in their quality of life and the progression of their disorder. Nine boys aged 6 to 12 who have been living with DMD since birth received a gene therapy treatment from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, and a year later, 7 of the boys show significant improvement in muscle strength and function.”
25 July 2020 Florian Veillet et al. Precision Breeding Made Real with CRISPR: Illustration through Genetic Resistance to Pathogens https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2590346220301309
“Since its discovery as a bacterial adaptive immune system and its development for genome editing in eukaryotes, the CRISPR technology has revolutionized plant research and precision crop breeding. The CRISPR toolbox holds great promise in the production of crops with genetic disease resistance to increase agriculture resilience and reduce chemical crop protection with a strong impact on the environment and public health. In this review, we provide an extensive overview on recent breakthroughs in CRISPR technology, including the newly developed prime editing system that allows precision gene editing in plants. We present how each CRISPR tool can be selected for optimal use in accordance with its specific strengths and limitations, and illustrate how the CRISPR toolbox can foster the development of genetically pathogen-resistant crops for sustainable agriculture.”
15 July Nature Editors Mitochondrial genome editing: another win for curiosity-driven research — A promising biomedical tool began life as part of efforts to answer a different question https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02094-x.
“Microbiologist Joseph Mougous has plenty of reasons to study microscopic warfare. Understanding inter-bacterial conflict, for example, can help researchers to learn why some microbes make animals and humans ill. But, as so often in research, his attempts to understand one set of problems have led to a tool for something different. Mougous, at the University of Washington in Seattle, and his colleagues have described how an exceptional enzyme enabled them to edit the genomes of mitochondria, crucial energy-generating structures in many cells (B. Y. Mok et al. Nature http://doi.org/d3gd; 2020).”
14 July 2020 Innovature Cassavas Need Gene Editing Assistance https://innovature.com/article/cassavas-need-gene-editing-assistance.
“Gene editing can help remove the cyanide content from cassava. This great video from the American Seed Trade Association in collaboration with Croplife International demonstrates how University of California Berkeley researchers are working to preserve cassava nutrients while removing cyanide.”
7 July Ritoban Mukherjee How Gene Editing is Changing the Future of Wine — and Making it Less Likely to Give You a Hangover https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/625713/gene-editing-changing-future-of-wine#.Xw9eJwcs68A.twitter.
“Rutgers University researchers successfully used the CRISPR/Cas9 technique in 2019 to develop downy mildew resistance in Chardonnay… In 2015, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign used CRISPR/Cas9 to genetically modify the yeast used to ferment wine. By doing so, they increased the amount of resveratrol, a component found in wine, that was produced during the fermentation process. The wine didn’t even cause a hangover.”
5 July 2020 Jane Metcalfe Covid-19 Is Accelerating Human Transformation — Let’s Not Waste It — The Neobiological Revolution is here. Now’s the time to put lessons from the Digital Revolution to use. https://www.wired.com/story/covid-19-is-accelerating-human-transformation-dont-waste-it/.
“We have survived and evolved because we are alert to the dangers lurking everywhere. But Homo sapiens are unique among species in that we can also visualize a future and then make it happen. Without that ability, we wouldn’t dare leave our caves. People at the forefront of life sciences are showing us enormous potential technological, public health, environmental, financial, and social benefits. What we imagine becomes what we build. It’s time to outline possible futures people can rally for rather than fear. Let’s not let the coronavirus crisis go to waste.”
1 July 2020, Paul Knoepfler CRISPR often damages human embryo chromosomes https://ipscell.com/2020/07/crispr-damages-human-embryo-chromosomes/
“Three new studies reported in preprints all show severe DNA damage to human embryos from CRISPR a surprisingly high percentage of the time including in some cases loss of heterozygosity (LOH). Anywhere from about a quarter to half of CRISPR’d embryos exhibited major genome damage.”
29 June 2020 University of Helsinki Novel tool to inducibly knockout genes at cellular resolution in plants https://www.helsinki.fi/en/news/life-science-news/novel-tool-to-inducibly-knockout-genes-at-cellular-resolution-in-plants
A research group at the University of Helsinki has discovered how to effect targeted gene knockouts in specific cells at designated times.
29 June 2020 Xiaonan Ma, Xiaoyan Zhang, Huimin Liu & Zhenghe Li Highly efficient DNA-free plant genome editing using virally delivered CRISPR–Cas9 Nature Plants volume 6, pages773–779(2020) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41477-020-0704-5
“Here we report the engineering of a plant negative-strand RNA virus-based vector for DNA-free in planta delivery of the entire CRISPR–Cas9 cassette to achieve single, multiplex mutagenesis and chromosome deletions at high frequency in a model allotetraploid tobacco host. Over 90% of plants regenerated from virus-infected tissues without selection contained targeted mutations… The viral vector remained stable even after mechanical transmission, and can readily be eliminated from mutated plants during regeneration or after seed setting. Despite high on-target activities, off-target effects, if any, are minimal. Our study provides a convenient, highly efficient and cost-effective approach for CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing in plants through virus infection.”
24 June 2020 Lucinda Jose Frost-tolerant wheat could save millions of dollars worth of Australian grain from freezing conditions https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2020-06-24/gene-editing-technology-to-create-frost-tolerant-wheat/12385596
“Researchers using gene-editing technology to create frost-tolerant wheat say their work could save Australian farmers millions of dollars in lost productivity. Plant biotechnologists at Murdoch University are working on a two-year project using gene-editing technology to encourage frost tolerant proteins already present in wheat to become active during the coldest months of Australian winter.”
26 June Amanda Heidt CRISPR Gene Editing Prompts Chaos in DNA of Human Embryos — Three studies identify unintended consequences of gene editing in human embryos, including large deletions and reshuffling of DNA. https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/crispr-gene-editing-prompts-chaos-in-dna-of-human-embryos-67668#.XwKh9WPsFPM.twitter
“The ability of CRISPR gene-editing technology to safely modify human embryos has been cast into doubt after several recent papers described massive disruptions to DNA in embryos subjected to editing.”
23 June 2020 Rob Stein A Year In, 1st Patient To Get Gene Editing For Sickle Cell Disease Is Thriving https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/06/23/877543610/a-year-in-1st-patient-to-get-gene-editing-for-sickle-cell-disease-is-thriving
“Like millions of other Americans, Victoria Gray has been sheltering at home with her children as the U.S. struggles through a deadly pandemic, and as protests over police violence have erupted across the country. But Gray is not like any other American. She’s the first person with a genetic disorder to get treated in the United States with the revolutionary gene-editing technique called CRISPR. And as the one-year anniversary of her landmark treatment approaches, Gray has just received good news: The billions of genetically modified cells doctors infused into her body clearly appear to be alleviating virtually all the complications of her disorder, sickle cell disease.”
22 June 2020 Adi Millman et al. Bacterial retrons function in anti-phage defense https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.06.21.156273v1 doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.06.21.156273
A new, non CRISPR bacterial anti-viral defense that may be harnessable: “Retrons are bacterial genetic elements comprised of a reverse transcriptase (RT) and a non-coding RNA. The RT uses the non-coding RNA as a template, generating a chimeric RNA/DNA molecule in which the RNA and DNA components are covalently linked… In this study we report that retrons function as anti-phage defense systems… Retron-containing systems are abundant in genomic “defense islands”, suggesting a role for most retrons in phage resistance… we show that these systems confer defense against a broad range of phages, with different retrons defending against different phages… Our results expose a new family of anti-phage defense systems abundant in bacteria.”
15 June 2020 Dibakar Das How GMO, gene-edited crops can keep cancer-causing heavy metals out of staple foods https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2020/06/15/how-gmo-gene-edited-crops-can-keep-cancer-causing-heavy-metals-out-of-staple-foods/
“While heavy metal-contaminated grains remain a serious global health concern, recent plant breeding advances, both in genetic engineering and gene editing, are allowing scientists to develop crop varieties that contain very low levels of potentially harmful heavy metals. Rice with low amounts of arsenic has already been produced, and other crops such as mustard could reduce consumer exposure to selenium, though strict regulation may keep these improved varieties off the market.”
14 June 2020 Sir David Baulcombe
British farmers need all the help science can offer. Time to allow gene editing — Plant scientist Sir David Baulcombe argues we must adapt the way we produce food to meet future agricultural challenges https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jun/14/british-farmers-need-all-the-help-science-can-offer-time-to-allow-gene-editing
“The agriculture bill, now going through parliament, could influence whether we use gene editing on our farms. At present, this country is out of line with the USA, Argentina, Brazil, Australia and Japan in that our regulatory framework prevents gene editing in crops and farm animals. A proposed amendment to the bill will not lead to unregulated use of gene editing but, if passed, it would give the secretary of state at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) the power to consult widely and make appropriate changes to the regulatory process.”
14 June 2020 Robin McKie Lords seek to allow gene-editing in UK ‘to produce healthy, hardier crops’ https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jun/14/lords-seek-to-allow-gene-editing-in-uk-to-produce-healthy-hardier-crops?utm_term=Autofeed&CMP=twt_gu&utm_medium&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1592121089.
“Peers are preparing plans to legalise the gene-editing of crops in England, a move that scientists say would offer the nation a chance to develop and grow hardier, more nutritious varieties. The legislation would also open the door to gene-editing of animals… At present, the practice is highly restricted by EU regulations. The plan would… give the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs the power to make changes to the Environmental Protection Act, alterations that would no longer restrict gene-editing in England. The rest of the UK would need separate legislation.”
9 June 2020, Treena Hein Castration solution-Gene editing produces prototype male pigs, which stay adolescent https://www.nationalhogfarmer.com/livestock/castration-solution.
“This particular gene edit relates to stopping expression of a gene that triggers the release of hormones necessary for sexual maturation… To achieve commercial production of male pigs that do not reach adolescence (and therefore do not have boar taint)…”
1 June 2020, Ecan E. Ellison, Ugrappa Nagalakshmi, Maria Elena Gamo, et al. Multiplexed heritable gene editing using RNA viruses and mobile single guide RNAs Nature Plants (2020) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41477-020-0670-y and https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/forgoing-gmo-footprint-study-takes-first-steps-using-viruses-genetic-editing-plants
Researchers are exploring the potential to use viruses to effect gene edits and dispensing with tissue culture. “An in planta gene editing approach was developed wherein Cas9 transgenic plants are infected with an RNA virus that expresses single guide RNAs (sgRNAs). The sgRNAs are augmented with sequences that promote cell-to-cell mobility. Mutant progeny are recovered in the next generation at frequencies ranging from 65 to 100%; up to 30% of progeny derived from plants infected with a virus expressing three sgRNAs have mutations in all three targeted loci.
29 May 2020, Steven Cerier GMO and gene-edited biofortified crops weaken case for organic agriculture https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2020/05/29/viewpoint-arrival-of-gmo-gene-edited-biofortified-crops-weakens-case-for-organic-agriculture/
“While anti-biotech activists cling to the myth that organic food is healthier and more nutritious than conventionally grown food, genetic engineering–fervently opposed by most organic advocates–is yielding a new lineup of GMO and gene-edited crops with nutrient content organic growers simply can’t replicate. One such product has already hit the market and several others are expected to follow in the next few years. This development has exposed a nutrition gap between organic and genetically engineered crops and further weakened the case for organic farming.”
29 May 2020, Daniel Norero Chile advances in breeding gene-edited crops that weather climate change https://allianceforscience.cornell.edu/blog/2020/05/chile-advances-in-breeding-gene-edited-crops-that-weather-climate-change/
“After playing a key role in global genetically modified (GM) seed production for two decades, Chile is now leading the way in publicly developed gene-edited crops that address climate change impacts on local agriculture. The trend was documented in a peer-review study published in the British magazine GM Crops & Food by Dr. Miguel Ángel Sánchez, executive director of ChileBio.”
26 May Adam Bluestein Gene-editing patents have increased tenfold in just four years. Here’s what the technology could cure: CRISPR gene-editing trials have taken off — and may hold the key to medical breakthroughs. https://www.fastcompany.com/90491466/gene-editing-patents-have-increased-tenfold-in-just-four-years-heres-what-the-technology-could-cure
“Since it was first described, in late 2012, CRISPR has drastically accelerated the scope of research and moved into practical applications in medicine. So far in 2020, there are 15 trials underway. In medicine, where new drugs take a decade or more to develop, that’s game changing.”
26 May 2020, Tautvydas Shuipys Drug factories: GMOs and gene editing are poised to transform medicine. Here’s how https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2020/05/26/drug-factories-gmos-and-gene-editing-are-poised-to-transform-medicine-heres-how/
“Using the modern tools of genetic engineering, researchers are developing plant-based drugs that are cheaper, easier to take and even more effective than their existing counterparts.”
26 May 2020, Johann Tasker Gene editing ‘vital’ for future of UK farming https://www.fwi.co.uk/arable/gene-editing-vital-for-future-of-uk-farming
“Politicians, scientists and industry leaders have joined forces for a campaign to give UK farmers access to gene-editing technology. They want the UK government to ditch EU rules that block access to precision-breeding techniques that supporters say could boost agricultural productivity.”
22 May 2020, Rafael Pinilla-Redondo, Saadlee Shehreen, Nicole D. Marino, et al. Discovery of multiple anti-CRISPRs uncovers anti-defense gene clustering in mobile genetic elements doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.05.22.110304 or https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.22.110304v2
“Many prokaryotes employ CRISPR-Cas systems to combat invading mobile genetic elements (MGEs). In response, some MGEs have evolved Anti-CRISPR (Acr) proteins to bypass this immunity, yet the diversity, distribution and spectrum of activity of this immune evasion strategy remain largely unknown. Here, we uncover 11 new type I anti-CRISPR genes encoded on numerous chromosomal and extrachromosomal mobile genetic elements within Enterobacteriaceae and Pseudomonas.”
19 May 2020, Sarah M. Schmidt, Melinda Belisle, and Wolf B. Frommer The evolving landscape around genome editing in agriculture - Many countries have exempted or move to exempt forms of genome editing from GMO regulation of crop plants https://www.embopress.org/doi/full/10.15252/embr.202050680#.XsUoEW3xMu4.twitter or https://doi.org/10.15252/embr.202050680
“Genome editing is revolutionizing plant science and its applications in agriculture. In its simplest form, it can generate specific genetic variants that are indistinguishable from naturally evolved variants. The legislation and regulation of genome‐edited plants in many countries is similarly evolving rapidly to adapt to the new technologies. Here, we summarize and provide an assessment of the current status of this rapidly evolving regulatory landscape, with a focus on recent policy developments in Europe and the global South.”
12 May 2020, Sharon Begley Deluge of genome editing therapies ends research drought for sickle cell disease https://www.statnews.com/2020/05/12/deluge-genome-editing-therapies-sickle-cell-disease/
“The newest publicly traded genome editing company, Beam Therapeutics, has gotten one of its experimental sickle cell therapies to produce high levels of healthy hemoglobin in lab mice, it plans to announce at the (virtual) annual meeting of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy on Wednesday, paving the way for human trials.”
12 May 2020, Melinda R. Baerwald, Alisha M. Goodbla, Raman P. Nagarajan, et al. Rapid and accurate species identification for ecological studies and monitoring using CRISPR‐based SHERLOCK https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1755-0998.13186
“The recently developed CRISPR‐Cas13a platform SHERLOCK (Specific High‐sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter unLOCKing) enables highly accurate taxonomic identification and has all the characteristics needed to transition to ecological and environmental disciplines.”
5 May 2020, Carl Zimmer With Crispr, a Possible Quick Test for the Coronavirus A pioneer of the gene-editing technology has devised a diagnostic test for the infection that could be as simple as a pregnancy test. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/05/health/crispr-coronavirus-covid-test.html
“A team of scientists has developed an experimental prototype for a fairly quick, cheap test to diagnose the coronavirus that gives results as simply as a pregnancy test does. The test is based on a gene-editing technology known as Crispr, and the researchers estimated that the materials for each test would cost about $6. “We’re excited that this could be a solution that people won’t have to rely on a sophisticated and expensive laboratory to run,” said Feng Zhang, a researcher at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., and one of the pioneers of Crispr technology.”
April 2020, Rebecca Mackelprang and Peggy G. Lemaux Genetic Engineering and Editing of Plants: An Analysis of New and Persisting Questions Annual Review of Plant Biology Vol. 71:659-687 https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-arplant-081519-035916https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/10.1146/annurev-arplant-081519-035916
“As new science is published and new techniques like genome editing emerge, reanalysis of some of these issues, and a look at emerging issues, is warranted. Herein, an analysis of relevant scientific literature is used to present a scientific perspective on selected topics related to genetic engineering and genome editing.”
28 April 2020, Emily Mullin CRISPR Could Finally Make the First Truly Allergy-Free Cat - One company is working on a DNA-altering injection to give pets https://onezero.medium.com/crispr-could-finally-make-the-first-truly-allergy-free-cat-c014a8cbe39f
“…the gene-editing tool CRISPR has opened up new possibilities for the future of hypoallergenic cats. Scientists at one Virginia company, Indoor Biotechnologies, have successfully used CRISPR to delete the gene that tells the body how to make Fel d 1. Not to worry — no animals were harmed in the process. The team experimented on feline cells, not live cats, but the researchers say the method shows promise for real pets.”
26 April 2020, Matin Qaim Role of New Plant Breeding Technologies for Food Security and Sustainable Agricultural Development https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/aepp.13044 also https://www.upi.com/Science_News/2020/04/27/Scientist-calls-for-renewed-debate-on-plant-breeding-technologies/6971588004234/
“New plant breeding technologies (NPBTs), including genetically modified and gene‐edited crops, offer large potentials for sustainable agricultural development and food security while addressing shortcomings of the Green Revolution. This article reviews potentials, risks, and actually observed impacts of NPBTs. Regulatory aspects are also discussed. While the science is exciting and some clear benefits are already observable, overregulation and public misperceptions may obstruct efficient development and use of NPBTs. Overregulation is particularly observed in Europe, but also affects developing countries in Africa and Asia, which could benefit the most from NPBTs. Regulatory reforms and a more science‐based public debate are required.”
22 April 2020, Angus Liu Reversing diabetes with CRISPR and patient-derived stem cells https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2020/04/30/reversing-diabetes-in-mice-with-crispr-edited-stem-cells/ and https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2020/04/30/ugandan-scientists-use-crispr-in-pioneering-research-to-breed-hardier-cassava/
“…scientists at Washington University in St. Louis have developed a way to use gene editing system CRISPR-Cas9 to edit a mutation in human-induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and then turn them into beta cells. When transplanted into mice, the cells reversed preexisting diabetes in a lasting way, according to results published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. While the researchers used cells from patients with Wolfram syndrome—a rare childhood diabetes caused by mutations in the WFS1 gene—they argue that the combination of a gene therapy with stem cells could potentially treat other forms of diabetes as well.”
21 April 2020, Chan C. Heu, Francine M. McCullough, Junbo Luan et al. CRISPR-Cas9-Based Genome Editing in the Silverleaf Whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) The CRISPR JournalVol. 3, No. 2 https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/crispr.2019.0067 also https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2020/04/30/crispr-could-stop-destructive-whiteflies-from-infecting-food-crops-with-viral-pathogens/
“ Bemisia tabaci… is a serious agricultural polyphagous insect pest and vector of numerous plant viruses, causing major worldwide economic losses. B. tabaci control is limited by lack of robust gene editing tools. Gene editing is difficult in B. tabaci due to small embryos that are technically challenging to inject and which have high mortality post injection. We developed a CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing protocol… resulting in efficient, heritable editing of the offspring genome... Development of easy-to-use gene editing protocols for B. tabaci will allow researchers to apply the power of reverse genetic approaches to this species and will lead to novel control methods for this devastating pest insect.
21 April 2020, Joseph Opoku Gakpo Gene editing will revolutionize crop breeding in Africa, new paper predicts https://allianceforscience.cornell.edu/blog/2020/04/gene-editing-will-revolutionize-crop-breeding-in-africa-new-paper-predicts/
“Genome editing technology has the potential to revolutionize crop development on the African continent, especially in sub-Sahara Africa, according to a new scientific paper. The paper, published in the Frontiers in Plant Science Journal by John Komen and five other scientists working in Africa, noted that CRISPR-Cas9 is already being used to improve major staple foods in Africa, such as wheat, cassava and banana, among others, and the research results are looking promising. International agricultural research centers, in collaboration with national research organizations in Africa, also are adopting genome editing in their research and development programs, the paper said. Komen urged African governments and research organizations to “act now to ensure they can access and apply these new technologies to the most pressing needs in their own countries.”
15 April 2020, Agustina I. Whelan, Patricia Gutti1, and Martin A. Lema Gene Editing Regulation and Innovation Economics https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fbioe.2020.00303/full
“This article explores the effects on economic innovation of [Argentina’s] regulatory experience... by comparing the cases of products derived from gene editing and other NBTs that have been presented to the regulatory system, against the cases of GMOs that have been deregulated in the country. Albeit preliminary, this analysis suggests that products from gene editing will have different profiles and market release rates compared with the first wave of products from the so called “modern biotechnology.” Gene editing products seems to follow a much faster development rate from bench to market. Such development is driven by a more diverse group of developers, and led mostly by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and public research institutions. In addition, product profiles are also more diversified in terms of traits and organisms. The inferences of these findings for the agricultural and biotechnology sectors, particularly in developing countries, are discussed.”
24 March 2020, University of Copenhagen "Research breakthrough: Humans are not the first to repurpose CRISPR." ScienceDaily https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200324131820.htm
“New research from the University of Copenhagen shows that we are not the first to find a way to exploit the benefits of the CRISPR technique. Apparently, primitive bacterial parasites have been doing so for millions of years… One of these biological entities are plasmids -- small DNA molecules that often behave like parasites and, like viruses, require a host bacterium to survive. "Here we found evidence that certain plasmids use type IV CRISPR-Cas systems to fight other plasmids competing over the same bacterial host. This is remarkable because, in doing so, plasmids have managed to turn the system around. Instead of protecting bacteria from their parasites, CRISPR is exploited to perform another task… "This is similar to how some birds compete for the best nesting site in a tree, or how hermit crabs fight for ownership of a shell."
16 March 2020, Steven Cerier From hunger to profitable harvest: How GMO, CRISPR-edited plants can help curb $220 billion in annual crop losses https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2020/03/16/from-hunger-to-profitable-harvest-how-gmo-crispr-edited-plants-can-help-curb-220-billion-in-annual-crop-losses/
“Genetic engineering techniques have the potential to entirely prevent many plant diseases that are responsible for billions of dollars of crop losses every year, and which are quite expensive to control through disease management techniques that include the spraying of pesticides. Farmers and consumers will benefit immensely if these breeding solutions are successful. They could effectively immunize our major staple crops in the same manner that vaccinations have largely eliminated the scourge of childhood diseases.”
16 March 2020 Qiupeng Lin et al. Prime genome editing in rice and wheat https://drive.google.com/file/d/1csQB_syZPhDwk4gerhmkhnu-11qbvaqF/view
“We adapted prime editors for use in plants through codon, promoter, and editing-condition optimization. The resulting suite of plant prime editors enable point mutations, insertions and deletions in rice and wheat protoplasts. Regenerated prime-edited rice plants were obtained at frequencies of up to 21.8%.
14 March 2020 Timothy R. Abbott, Girija Dhamdhere, Yanxia Liu, et al. Development of CRISPR as a prophylactic strategy to combat novel coronavirus and influenza https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.13.991307v1 doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.03.13.991307 also https://www.wired.com/story/could-crispr-be-the-next-virus-killer/
“Here we demonstrate a CRISPR-Cas13-based strategy, PAC-MAN (Prophylactic Antiviral CRISPR in huMAN cells), for viral inhibition that can effectively degrade SARS-CoV-2 sequences and live influenza A virus (IAV) genome in human lung epithelial cells.”
9 March, 2020 Meiling Ming, Qiurong Ren, Changtian Pan, et al. CRISPR–Cas12b enables efficient plant genome engineering https://www.nature.com/articles/s41477-020-0614-6 also https://agnr.umd.edu/news/umd-researcher-establishes-new-viable-crispr-cas12b-system-plant-genome-engineering
“…(CRISPR)–Cas12b is a newly emerged genome engineering system… for genome engineering in rice, an important crop. We found AaCas12b was more efficient than AacCas12b and BthCas12b for targeted mutagenesis, which was further demonstrated in multiplexed genome editing. We also engineered the Cas12b systems for targeted transcriptional repression and activation. Our work establishes Cas12b as the third promising CRISPR system, after Cas9 and Cas12a, for plant genome engineering.”
6 March, 2020 John Komen1, Leena Tripathi, Boniface Mkoko Biosafety Regulatory Reviews and Leeway to Operate: Case Studies From Sub-Sahara Africa Front. Plant Sci., 06 March 2020 https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2020.00130
“While modern biotechnology and, specifically, genetic modification are subject of debate in many parts of the world, an increasing number of countries in Sub-Sahara Africa are making important strides towards authorizing general releases of genetically modified (GM) crop varieties for use by farmers and agribusinesses. Obviously, the documented economic and environmental benefits…based on a track record of over two decades—are a major driver in the decision-making process. Another key factor is the increasing alignment of biosafety regulatory policies with progressive agricultural and rural development policies in Africa, resulting in—compared to past experiences—greater emphasis on anticipated benefits rather than risks in biosafety regulatory reviews. In several cases, this has led to expedited reviews of GM crop release applications, either for confined field trials or general environmental release, taking experiences and data from other countries into account. Such regulatory approaches hold promise as the pipeline of relevant, pro-poor GM crop applications is expanding as are the opportunities provided by novel plant breeding techniques. This review article analyses the shifting policy context in select African economies, resulting in adoption of new agricultural technology, and novel regulatory approaches used in biosafety decision-making. Case studies will be presented for Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda to analyze challenges, distill lessons learned and to present general policy recommendations for emerging economies.”
5 March, 2020 Joan Conrow Top European science council demands ‘radical’ GMO regulatory reform https://allianceforscience.cornell.edu/blog/2020/03/top-european-science-council-demands-radical-gmo-regulatory-reform/ and https://t.co/HnfNO9YSzH?amp=1
“A top European science council calling is demanding a “radical reform of the legal framework” that regulates genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the European Union. In a strongly worded commentary, the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) said the current EU regulations are “no longer fit for purpose” and warned of serious ramifications if the rules are not eased to allow new plant breeding techniques to move forward.”
4 March, 2020 Alexander Avilov Rosneft Joins Russia's Gene-Editing Tech Program https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/03/04/rosneft-joins-russias-gene-editing-tech-program-a69520
“Russia’s oil giant Rosneft and the Russian government will join forces to develop gene-editing technology, according to a government decree published Wednesday. The deal, which President Vladimir Putin ordered in December, aims to accelerate Russia’s $1.6 billion program to create 30 new varieties of genetically modified crops and animals by 2027.”
4 March, 2020 Jeff Akst First Patient Receives In Vivo CRISPR Editing https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/first-patient-receives-in-vivo-crispr-editing-67222
Doctors in Oregon delivered the gene editing machinery behind the retina in hopes of treating an inherited form of blindness, according to the companies that developed the therapy. https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/first-patient-receives-in-vivo-crispr-editing-67222. “Cambridge, Massachusetts–based Editas Medicine and Dublin-based Allergan announced today (March 4) that doctors at the Casey Eye Institute of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland used CRISPR gene editing inside a patient for the first time. They are attempting to treat an inherited form of blindness called Leber congenital amaurosis, the Associated Press reports. The scientists say they will know within a few weeks if the treatment is working and safe, and plan to test it on additional patients if so.”
4 March, 2020 Oliver Xiaoou Dong, et al. Marker-free carotenoid-enriched rice generated through targeted gene insertion using CRISPR-Cas9 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-14981-y. Also Joan Conrow New study shows CRISPR can be applied to produce biofortified rice https://allianceforscience.cornell.edu/blog/2020/03/new-study-shows-crispr-can-be-applied-to-produce-biofortified-rice/
“A team of California plant scientists has taken a CRISPR-Cas9 approach to develop more nutritious varieties of rice. Their research… demonstrated that CRISPR-Cas9 can be successfully used to biofortify rice with carotenoid, a precursor to the essential nutrient vitamin A. Previous research has demonstrated that biofortification of rice can help prevent blindness, weakened immune systems and other health problems associated with vitamin A deficiency, which is especially prevalent among children in developing nations.”
4 March, 2020 In A 1st, Scientists Use Revolutionary Gene-Editing Tool To Edit Inside A Patient https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/03/04/811461486/in-a-1st-scientists-use-revolutionary-gene-editing-tool-to-edit-inside-a-patient
“For the first time, scientists have used the gene-editing technique CRISPR to try to edit a gene while the DNA is still inside a person's body. The groundbreaking procedure involved injecting the microscopic gene-editing tool into the eye of a patient blinded by a rare genetic disorder, in hopes of enabling the volunteer to see. They hope to know within weeks whether the approach is working and, if so, to know within two or three months how much vision will be restored.”
3 March Krishna Ramanujan Improved CRISPR gene drive solves problems of old tech https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2020/03/improved-crispr-gene-drive-solves-problems-old-tech#.XmJRq506PwQ.twitter
“Gene drives use genetic engineering to create a desired mutation in a few individuals that then spreads via mating throughout a population in fewer than 10 generations… Now, a study… describes a new type of gene drive with the potential to delay resistance. The method could also be applied to a regional population, limiting its spread other populations where it could have undesired effects.”
27 February, 2020 Jackson Champer, Esther Lee, Emily Yang, et al. A toxin-antidote CRISPR gene drive system for regional population modification https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-14960-3
“Here, we introduce the Toxin-Antidote Recessive Embryo (TARE) [gene] drive. It functions by disrupting a target gene, forming recessive lethal alleles, while rescuing drive-carrying individuals with a recoded version of the target… We demonstrate a TARE drive in Drosophila with 88-95% transmission by female heterozygotes. This drive was able to spread through a large cage population in just six generations following introduction at 24% frequency without any apparent evolution of resistance. Our results suggest that TARE drives constitute promising candidates for the development of effective, flexible, and regionally confinable drives for population modification.”
21 February, 2020 Ariella Simke You May Find Salt-Tolerant Rice Growing In The Ocean By 2021 https://www.forbes.com/sites/ariellasimke/2020/02/21/you-may-find-salt-tolerant-rice-growing-in-the-ocean-by-2021/?subId1=xid:fr1582662210931gjd#608745534133
“A company started by two 24-year-old scientists wants to produce salt-tolerant rice and floating ocean farms by 2021, with small pilot farms by the end of 2020.”
17 February, 2020 Ananya Mukherjee From low-gluten wheat to virus-resistant cacao, CRISPR can enhance our favorite foods https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2020/02/17/from-low-gluten-wheat-to-virus-resistant-cacao-crispr-can-enhance-our-favorite-foods/
“Ever since its discovery, there has been no looking back for CRISPR …. Aside from tomato, strawberry, banana, grape, apple, watermelon, and kiwifruit are some more fruits which have been edited by CRISPR. Complex and large genomes such as date palm are now being targeted to be edited by CRISPR to tackle …. growth-related issues in a changing climate. Food crops are being manipulated with the help of CRISPR to produce everything from low gluten wheat to virus-resistant cacao in West Africa that can produce more chocolate. Mushrooms which are known for spoiling easily are being edited to have a longer shelf life. China has scientists working on improving yields in rice. It’s no secret that with the boom in population and a changing climate, the world is soon going to be in a massive struggle to have enough food for every mouth …. These are just some exciting examples. There are lists of agriculture benefits that we have gotten from CRISPR and most of these crops are under varying stages of success.”
“The US Food and Drug Administration is sticking to its plan to carry out mandatory premarket review of all gene-edited livestock, irrespective of trait risk. It should rethink.”
6 February, 2020 Ed Cara U.S. Trial finds CRISPR-edited cells are safe in cancer patients https://gizmodo.com/u-s-trial-finds-crispr-edited-cells-are-safe-in-cancer-1841495203?utm_medium=sharefromsite&utm_source=gizmodo_twitter.
“researchers say they’ve shown that CRISPR-edited immune cells can be safely given to cancer patients and survive for up to nine months—a finding that may signal CRISPR’s future as part of an emerging cancer treatment known as immunotherapy.”
5 February, 2020 Hannah Kuchler CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna opposes germline-editing moratorium: ‘We’re going to have to figure it out’ https://www.ft.com/content/6d063e48-4359-11ea-abea-0c7a29cd66fe.
“In November 2018, Doudna received an email from Chinese scientist He Jiankui, saying he planned to announce the birth of Crispr-edited twins at an upcoming conference in Hong Kong. The children were engineered without the knowledge of the international scientific community, whose leading members — among them Doudna — had been pressing for a moratorium on germline editing. Doudna declined to sign another call for a moratorium after the revelation of the Chinese babies, saying that there needs instead to be appropriate regulation of gene editing. In A Crack in Creation, a book she co-authored in 2017, she wondered whether we would ever have the intellectual and moral capacity to make decisions about germline editing. I ask if she still feels that way. “I would say my feeling today is that, like it or not, we’re going to have to figure it out,” she says.”
4 February, 2020 Sara Reardon Step aside CRISPR, RNA editing is taking off - Making changes to the molecular messengers that create proteins might offer flexible therapies for cancer, pain or high cholesterol, in addition to genetic disorders. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00272-5.
“Thorsten Stafforst found his big break at the worst possible time. In 2012, his team at the University of Tübingen… discovered that by linking enzymes to engineered strands of RNA, they could change the sequences of messenger RNA molecules in cells. In essence, they could rewrite the genome’s instructions en route to making proteins. The process could theoretically serve to treat numerous diseases… But Stafforst had a lot of trouble getting the discovery published — it was simply not interesting any more. His finding was overshadowed by the discovery a few months earlier that the DNA-editing tool CRISPR–Cas9 could be used to permanently alter the genome.”
4 February, 2020 National Agricultural Technology Institute Field trials of non-browning CRISPR-edited potatoes begin in Argentina https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2020/02/04/field-trials-of-non-browning-crispr-edited-potatoes-begin-in-argentina/.
“In a study published recently in the Frontiers in Plant Science magazine, scientists from Argentina and Sweden reported they have edited a polyphenol oxidase gene in potatoes ( Solanum tubersoum L.). After successfully editing the gene, they obtained tubers free of enzymatic browning.”
4 February, 2020 Arthur Neslen, Eddy Wax, Louise Guillot Leaked proposals suggest EU may assess CRISPR gene editing to ‘improve sustainability’ of food production https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2020/02/04/leaked-proposals-suggest-eu-may-assess-crispr-gene-editing-to-improve-sustainability-of-food-production/.
“More leaked drafts of the Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy reveal how the [European] Commission’s plan to make EU food production greener and healthier is taking shape. There are far fewer policy proposals in these two draft action plans, both dated January 13, suggesting the plan has undergone some serious redrafting by Commission wonks since an earlier, more wide-ranging document, dated January 6, floated 95 policies.”
31 January, 2020 Peter Beetham How Gene Editing is Reshaping Agriculture https://seedworld.com/how-gene-editing-is-reshaping-agriculture/.
“With gene editing comes a new model of how crops are improved and produced, who produces the plants, and how they will be introduced to farmers and importantly how plant breeding can quickly respond to change including arming crops with traits to combat our changing climate. The changes coming to agriculture will be as profound as the original marriage of agriculture and genetics, but this revolution represents a return to the way plants adapt in nature. “
31 January, 2020 David Warmflash The real sustainability revolution in farming rests with CRISPR and other New Breeding Techniques. Why are organic farmers blocked from using them? https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2020/01/31/the-real-sustainability-revolution-in-farming-rests-with-crispr-and-other-new-breeding-techniques-why-are-organic-farmers-blocked-from-using-them/.
“[Gene edited] …crops, however, cannot be sold as organic. That status is defined by organic authorities and in most cases is not related to how things are grown, nor to whether the crop is produced sustainably. Indeed, in some cases, crops developed through NBTs can be grown with less potentially harmful inputs than those granted organic status. This disconnect between sustainability and organic certification is likely to persist in the foreseeable future because the standards that are used to designate which farm products receive an organic seal are based on, or at least influenced strongly, by ideological forces. The main such force in this case, promoted by organic authorities, is a belief that classic organic techniques are more environmentally sensitive than newer techniques, which they claim are untested and potentially dangerous.
30 January 2020 Fyodor D. Urnov Prime Time for Genome Editing? N Engl J Med 2020; 382:481-484 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMcibr1914271 https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMcibr1914271.
“Protein engineering has yielded a new, potent tool — in the form of a chimeric enzyme — for correcting genetic mutations. Proof of principle that this enzyme can correct different types of mutation, and even combinations of mutations, has been obtained in different types of mammalian cells…”
30 January, 2020 Arizona State University ASU scientists boost gene-editing tools to new heights in human stem cells - Proof-of-concept shows genes implicated in Alzheimer's disease can be accurately edited with 90% efficiency in human stem cells. https://phys.org/news/2020-01-scientists-boost-gene-editing-tools-heights.html.
“… Brafman, using a new update to the CRISPR base editing technology… has vastly outperformed previous efforts by making highly accurate, single-DNA base editing with an efficiency of up to 90% of human stem cells. The results were published in the journal Stem Cell Reports…
29 January, 2020 Xiaoli Liu, Xiujuan Zhou, Kang Li, et al. A simple and efficient cloning system for CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing in rice https://peerj.com/articles/8491/ & http://www.isaaa.org/kc/cropbiotechupdate/article/default.asp?ID=17960#.XjrmlZyZ3TY.twitter.
“Scientists from Hainan University and Huazhong Agricultural University developed a simple and efficient cloning method for CRISPR-Cas9-mediated genome editing in rice. The results are published in PeerJ Life and Environment.”
29 January 2020 ISAAA Study Reveals Experts' and Public's Attitude Towards Gene-edited Crops http://www.isaaa.org/kc/cropbiotechupdate/article/default.asp?ID=17938#.XjF6DU6qXGk.twitter.
“A team of Japanese researchers… surveyed perceptions of Japanese experts and the public of the benefits, risks, and value of using gene editing for developing crops compared to other emerging or conventional breeding techniques in Japan… [finding] participants who had expert knowledge of molecular biology perceived emerging technologies to offer the lowest risk and highest benefits or value for food application, while lay public showed the highest risk and lowest benefit.”
23 January 2020 Seth Truscott Disabling viruses with CRISPR scissors https://news.wsu.edu/2020/01/23/disabling-viruses-crispr-scissors/.
“Viruses cause billions of dollars in losses for many food, feed, and fiber crops, including staples like wheat, rice, potatoes, cassava, beans, and plantains. In a scientific first, Washington State University researchers delivered a one-two punch to knock out these viruses, using precise, targeted editing of viral genes. Popularly known as CRISPR-Cas9, this genome editing approach can delete and replace individual bases in DNA.”
22 January, 2020 Mark Terry Newly ID'ed T-Cells Have Potential to Become Universal Cancer Therapy https://www.biospace.com/article/researchers-id-immune-cell-that-can-attack-almost-all-cancer-cells/ & https://www.nature.com/articles/s41590-019-0578-8.epdf?referrer_access_token=snY5ZB-EgcG5gMxu6h5BxdRgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0NjOoBZR7tEtwlsa1xeSU1tSn9OqKp9tJ7vTk8p7vCmAU4NZd5dS3BIALSEUtLFcpomMuKDUbEnW8GutXD_HuOev_ekvAEfzAa2kC03oyp2SuhBvB2N5K9feGAqhcKqIKgZC2OWk5VF1AgHIU4VXmKYeN0eWdmTgIw5Jb227ILGMg%3D%3D&tracking_referrer=www.bbc.com
“The researchers essentially identified a new T-cell and its receptor that appears able to search out and kill a broad range of cancer cells, including lung, skin, blood, colon, breast, bone, prostate, ovarian, kidney and cervical cancer cells. It left noncancerous cells alone. “There’s a chance here to treat every patient,” Andrew Sewell, professor, Division of Infection and Immunity, School of Medicine at Cardiff, told the BBC. “Previously nobody believed this could be possible. It raises the prospect of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ cancer treatment, a single type of T-cell that could be capable of destroying many different types of cancers across the population.” The T-cell they identified interacts with a cell surface molecule, MR1. MR1 is believed to flag the abnormal metabolism inside a cancer cell.
22 January 2020 Flora Southey Vertical farms of the future require genetically edited plants, says scientist. https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2020/01/22/Vertical-farms-of-the-future-require-genetically-edited-plants-says-scientist
“There is an innovation gap in urban agriculture, suggests Aberystwyth University Professor Huw Jones, whereby we have ‘huge innovation’ in vertical farming, yet still use ‘old seeds’ and ‘old plant architecture’.”
20 January 2020 Michael Le Page CRISPR-edited chickens made resistant to a common virus https://www.newscientist.com/article/2230617-crispr-edited-chickens-made-resistant-to-a-common-virus/.
“CRISPR genome editing has been used to make chickens resistant to a common virus. The approach could boost egg and meat production worldwide while improving welfare. The altered chickens showed no signs of disease even when exposed to high doses of the avian leukosis virus (ALV). The virus is a problem for poultry farmers around the world, says Jiri Hejnar at the Czech Academy of Sciences.”
17 January 2020 Elie Dolgin The kill-switch for CRISPR that could make gene-editing safer -- How anti-CRISPR proteins and other molecules could bolster biosecurity and improve medical treatments https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00053-0?utm_source=twt_nnc&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=naturenews&sf228283173=1.
“[researchers] …stumbled onto tools now known as anti-CRISPRs. These proteins serve as the rocks to CRISPR’s molecular scissors... more than 50 anti-CRISPR proteins have now been characterized, each with its own means of blocking the cut-and-paste action of CRISPR systems. The expansive roster opens up many questions about the archaic arms race between bacteria and the phages that prey on them. But it also provides scientists with a toolkit for keeping gene editing in check. Some are using these proteins as switches to more finely control the activity of CRISPR systems in gene-editing applications for biotechnology or medicine. Others are testing whether they, or other CRISPR-stopping molecules, could serve as biosecurity counter-measures of last resort, capable of reining in some genome-edited bioweapon or out-of-control gene drive.”
13 January 2020 EuroSeeds 26 business organizations support a Commission study on “novel genomic techniques” and express their hope for more enabling regulations https://www.euroseeds.eu/news/update-26-european-business-organisations-ask-the-eu-to-submit-a-study-on-the-status-of-novel-genomic-techniques/.
“On 9 January, 26 European business organisations jointly signed a letter calling upon the European Commission and Member States to re-emphasize that products obtained by novel genomic techniques should not be subject to Directive 2001/18 requirements and related regulations if they could also have been obtained through conventional methods or result from spontaneous processes in nature. The organizations support the Council Decision (EU) 2019/1904 requesting the Commission to submit a study on the status of novel genomic techniques and welcome the potential for a Commission proposal, which they hope will deliver more enabling rules for products resulting from the latest breeding methods, while keeping high standards of EU food production.”
9 January Global Scientists Object: EC study on the status of novel genomic techniques – Scientists open letter challenge European Commission to develop scientifically defensible regulations for gene edited products https://www.euroseeds.eu/app/uploads/2020/01/Draft-value-chain-letter-to-new-Comm-18-12-2019.pdf
“The undersigned value chain partners strongly support Council Decision (EU) 2019/1904 requesting the Commission to submit a study on the status of novel genomic techniques1 and welcome the potential for a Commission proposal, which we hope will deliver more enabling rules for products resulting from the latest breeding methods, while keeping high standards of EU food production. In this context we would like to re-emphasize our position that products should not be subject to Directive 2001/18 requirements and related regulations if they could also have been obtained through conventional methods or result from spontaneous processes in nature. This differentiated regulatory approach, which looks at both, the process and the product, thus taking into account the benefits of these novel genomic techniques and the resulting products is taken up in a growing number of countries around the world.”
7 January 2020 Jenna Gallegos CRISPR: Overcoming its obstacles in plant research https://allianceforscience.cornell.edu/blog/2020/01/crispr-overcoming-its-obstacles-in-plant-research/.
“CRISPR is an extremely powerful gene editing tool that has already made huge waves in plant research. We can potentially use CRISPR to make hardier crops, engineer produce in ways that directly benefit consumers and address climate change. But while CRISPR is often described as “cut and paste” for genes, the actual process is not that simple. Scientists still face several obstacles associated with using CRISPR in plant research, including regulatory hurdles.”
30 December Zaobao.com He Jiankui illegally edits human embryo genes, sentenced to three years in prison https://www.zaobao.com.sg/realtime/china/story20191230-1017060.
“The "gene-edited baby" case was publicly sentenced in the first instance of the Nanshan District People's Court in Shenzhen today. The three defendants, He Jiankui, Zhang Renli, and Qin Jinzhou, jointly executed the human embryo gene editing and reproductive medical activities for reproductive purposes, which constituted the crime of illegal medical practice, and were each held criminally responsible according to law… He Jiankui was sentenced to three years' imprisonment and a fine of 3 million yuan (RMB, the same below, about S $ 600,000)… and barred [him] from engaging in human assisted reproductive technology services for life.”
23 December Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory A new tomato ideal for urban gardens and even outer space https://phys.org/news/2019-12-tomato-ideal-urban-gardens-outer.html.
“Farmers could soon be growing tomatoes bunched like grapes in a storage unit, on the roof of a skyscraper, or even in space. That's if a clutch of new gene-edited crops prove as fruitful as the first batch.”
23 December Siobhán Dunphy Can gene-edited pigs remedy the global shortage of human organs? https://www.europeanscientist.com/en/public-health/can-gene-edited-pigs-remedy-the-global-shortage-of-human-organs/.
“Scientists have used CRISPR technology to develop a new generation of gene-edited pigs that may one day provide much-needed donor organs for people. The genetically engineered animals are described in a new paper published on 19 December in BioRxiv (1). So-called xenotransplantation — the use of non-human organs for transplant, in this case, pigs — could provide a viable alternative to human donor shortages, thanks to genetic engineering. Pigs are widely consumed around the world, so breeding them for replacement body parts presents much less of a moral dilemma than other animals with organs similar to humans, like say monkeys. Pigs also reach adulthood in just six short months and the anatomy of pig organs are quite close to those of human organs.
17 December Jenna Gallegos Five ways CRISPR plants can combat climate change https://allianceforscience.cornell.edu/blog/2019/12/five-ways-crispr-plants-can-combat-climate-change/.
“Here are five ways CRISPR can be used to engineer hardier crops that fix more carbon and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to agriculture…”
16 December Innovature Gene Editing Can Protect Your Favorite Cookies https://innovature.com/article/gene-editing-can-protect-your-favorite-cookies?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social_Paid&utm_campaign=2019_Innovature&utm_term=COMP&utm_content=Holiday_Cookies.
“The cookie’s many names — biscuits, rusks, wafers, galletas — show that our love for these sweet treats transcends geographic bounds. However, a changing climate and spreading pests and diseases pose a risk to cookie jars all over the world. Bakers and cookie lovers can rest easy, though, because there’s a solution within reach: gene editing. By making small changes to crops’ DNA, scientists can improve the key ingredients in our favorite cookies to withstand more risks than ever before. These changes can help crops protect themselves against rising temperatures, as well as pests and diseases. Here are five cookies that gene editing could improve…”
16 December University of Minnesota Research Brief: New methods promise to speed up development of new plant varieties https://twin-cities.umn.edu/news-events/research-brief-new-methods-promise-speed-development-new-plant-varieties.
“A University of Minnesota research team recently developed new methods that will make it significantly faster to produce gene-edited plants. They hope to alleviate a long-standing bottleneck in gene editing and, in the process, make it easier and faster to develop and test new crop varieties with two new approaches described in a paper recently published in Nature Biotechnology… The new methods will: drastically reduce the time needed to edit plant genes from as long as nine months to as short as a few weeks; work in more plant species than was possible using tissue culture, which is limited to specific species and varieties; allow researchers to produce genetically edited plants without the need of a sterile lab, making it a viable approach for small labs and companies to utilize. To eliminate the arduous work that goes into gene-editing through tissue culture, co-first authors Ryan Nasti and Michael Maher developed new methods that leverage important plant growth regulators responsible for plant development.”
13 December Xingming Hu, et al. Using CRISPR-Cas9 to generate semi-dwarf rice lines in elite landraces https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-55757-9.
“…Expanding the genetic diversity among Chinese rice varieties and cultivating high-yielding and high-quality varieties with resistance to different biotic and abiotic stresses is critical. Here, we used the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein9(Cas9) genome editing system to edit Semi-Dwarf1 (SD1) in the elite landraces Kasalath and TeTePu (TTP), which contain many desired agronomic traits such as tolerance to low phosphorous and broad-spectrum resistance to several diseases and insects. Mutations of SD1 confer shorter plant height for better resistance to lodging. Field trials demonstrated that the yield of the new Kasalath and TTP mutant lines was better than that of the wild type under modern cultivation and that the lines maintained the same desirable agronomic characteristics as their wild-type progenitors. Our results showed that breeding using available landraces in combination with genomic data of different landraces and gene-editing techniques is an effective way to relieve genetic erosion in modern rice varieties.”
11 December Charlie Arnot Gene Editing: It’s an Evolution, not a Revolution https://www.fb.org/viewpoints/gene-editing-its-an-evolution-not-a-revolution.
“The Coalition for Responsible Gene Editing in Agriculture… analyzed consumer research about communicating about biotechnology and they discovered that some methods of communicating are more effective than others. One discovery was that talking about the evolution of gene editing technology – instead of describing it as a revolution – helped people to understand it better… However, talking about how science can “revolutionize” food production does not resonate with consumers. The public is more supportive when gene editing is described within the context of plant and animal genetic improvement, which has a legacy of safe, responsible use spanning several generations. Rather than being a revolutionary technique, consumers are more comfortable when gene editing is approached as an evolution of the next iteration of improvement. It’s also helpful to identify the way gene editing can benefit consumers directly while aligning with public desires. The top three gene editing benefits that consumers care about most are the environment, disease resistance and animal wellbeing.”
11 December Maria Chaplia Viewpoint: With Conservative sweep of the ‘Brexit election’, Boris Johnson poised to steer the UK out of ‘outdated’ EU GMO, CRISPR regulations https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2019/12/11/viewpoint-with-conservative-sweep-of-the-brexit-election-boris-johnson-poised-to-steer-the-uk-out-of-outdated-eu-gmo-crispr-regulations/.
“In the wake of the Conservative Party’s crushing victory in the election in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is poised to navigate Britain’s exit from the European Union. Once out of the EU, the UK could regain full control over its laws and regulations. And that might open the door to a reversal on what scientists consider its backward-looking policies on GMOs and CRISPR gene editing in agriculture.”
5 December Natasha Foote EU study to clarify gene editing court ruling further muddies waters https://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/news/eu-study-to-clarify-gene-editing-court-ruling-further-muddies-waters/?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_medium=social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1575559196.
“After the controversial European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling in 2018 that organisms obtained by new plant breeding techniques (NBTs) should, in principle, fall under the GMO Directive, the Council of the EU has requested a study from the Commission to clarify the situation. But what this means in practice remains unclear, stakeholders have told EURACTIV. Speaking at a recent event on NBTs, Jari Leppä, Finnish agriculture minister and current president of the EU agri-fish council, confirmed the Council had requested a study on the “options to update the existing legislation”. He added that “if necessary, the Commission must be prepared to submit a proposal to amend the GMO directive”. But the exact purpose and aim of the request are not immediately clear.”
5 December Guan Yu Lim Genome-edited food products to go on sale in Japan, despite no labelling and safety provisions https://www.foodnavigator-asia.com/Article/2019/12/05/Genome-edited-food-products-to-go-on-sale-in-Japan-despite-no-labelling-and-safety-provisions.
“Food products produced using genome editing technology could go on sale in Japan by the end of the year despite no specific labelling rules being in place.”
4 December Michael Irving Genetically-engineered yeast produce beer that staves off staleness https://newatlas.com/science/genetically-engineered-yeast-beer-fresh/.
“…researchers from Jiangnan University have found a way to keep beer fresher for longer, by genetically engineering lager yeast to produce certain compounds that prevent staleness.”
4 December German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Union of the German Academies of Sciences, and Humanities German Research Foundation “Towards a scientifically justified, differentiated regulation of genome edited plants in the EU” https://www.leopoldina.org/en/publications/detailview/publication/wege-zu-einer-wissenschaftlich-begruendeten-differenzierten-regulierung-genomeditierter-pflanzen-in/.
“In July 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled that the legal regulations for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) apply to all organisms which have been altered using genome editing methods such as CRISPR-Cas. This makes it difficult to study, develop and cultivate improved crops which are urgently needed for productive, climate-adapted and more sustainable agriculture. The National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities, and the German Research Foundation (DFG)… point out that this blanket legal classification of GMOs does not take into account what type of genetic modification is present in a given organism. In the eyes of the science academies and the DFG, this primarily process-based regulatory approach has no rational justification. They have offered recommendations on how European genetic engineering legislation can be amended as a short-term solution and completely renewed in the long term.”
4 December Vytenis Andriukaitis Andriukaitis: Europe should take lead in science-based plant innovation https://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/opinion/andriukaitis-europe-should-take-lead-in-science-based-plant-innovation
“The EU is leading the science-based fight against climate change and will also lead on science-based plant innovation, writes former EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis… Plant breeding has been practiced by humans since almost the beginning of our civilisation. We have been experimenting with different species and plant varieties, with some impressive results. We bred corn from teosinte and strawberries from wild berries. Natural selection and artificial methods have been used to create desired mutations and get an improved breed. Now, we found a faster way to breed, mix and produce better varieties – via gene engineering. This could sound like a success story, right? Alas, a tide of suspicion and fear pushed these innovations outside the EU.”
2 December Manuel V. Borca, Elizabeth R. Edina, Ediane Silva, et al. Development of a highly effective African swine fever virus vaccine by deletion of the I177L gene results in sterile immunity against the current epidemic Eurasia strain doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/861666 .
“ Currently there is no commercially available vaccine against African swine fever. Outbreaks of this disease are devastating the swine industry from Central Europe to East Asia, and they are being caused by circulating strains of African swine fever virus derived from the Georgia2007 isolate. Here we report the discovery of a previously uncharacterized virus gene, which when deleted completely attenuates the Georgia isolate. Importantly, animals infected with this genetically modified virus were protected from developing ASF after challenge with the virulent parental virus.”
2 December Michael Eisenstein CRISPR Vehicles Break Down Barriers to In Vivo Genome Editing - Delivery options for CRISPR gene editing components include viral vectors, lipid-based nanoparticles, and polymer formulations https://www.genengnews.com/insights/crispr-vehicles-break-down-barriers-to-in-vivo-genome-editing/.
“This past July saw a big leap forward for clinical application of CRISPR-based genome editing, with the launch of the Brilliance trial by Allergan and Editas Medicine. Previous clinical forays into genome editing have focused on manipulating isolated human cells in the laboratory, which are then transplanted back into patients. In contrast, Brilliance will be the first in vivo test of this technology in humans, with patients receiving direct injections of viral particles laden with genes encoding the CRISPR-Cas9 machinery to correct a retinal gene defect.”
1 December Ruth Williams DNA-responsive polymer gels used for releasing drugs, encapsulating cells, and much more now have greater adaptability thanks to the Cas12a nuclease https://www.the-scientist.com/modus-operandi/crispr-based-tool-expands-dna-hydrogel-versatility-66751?utm_content=110496346&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&hss_channel=tw-18198832.
“…the team created DNA-containing hydrogels that, in response to a dsDNA cue provided by the researchers, could either release DNA-bound compounds or fully degrade. Such degradation could be used for applications such as liberating encapsulated contents like cells or nanoparticles, initiating flow of a buffer through a microfluidic device, or opening an electrical circuit. These last two examples could potentially be used in diagnostic devices, says Collins, with a change in buffer flow or electrical output signaling the presence of a DNA sequence of interest in a patient sample. “They showed some really novel applications of responsive hydrogels,” says Rebecca Schulman, a chemical and biomolecular engineer at Johns Hopkins University… “Their approach is totally customizable . . . [and] is really cleverly designed,” adds bio-engineer Dan Luo of Cornell University… “It’s a real integration of molecular biology and materials science.” (Science, 365:780–85, 2019).
November, 2019 RimLassoued, Diego Maximiliano Macall, Stuart J.Smyth, Peter W.B.Phillips, HayleyHesseln Risk and safety considerations of genome edited crops: Expert opinion Current Research in Biotechnology 1:11-21 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crbiot.2019.08.001 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2590262819300024
“Highlights: Genome edited crops pose marginal risk to the economy, human health and the environment; Existing national regulations work to discourage genome editing in many countries; Advocacy groups tend to discourage the use of new gene technologies in agriculture based on speculative risks; Risks associated with genome editing are driven more by socio-political factors than by scientific principles; Majority of experts are for inclusion of social-economic considerations in the regulation of biotechnology.”
21 November Ag News Gene editing delivers 15-16% protein sorghum http://news.agropages.com/News/Detail-32959.htm
“Researchers have achieved a major breakthrough in sorghum, elevating the protein of the globally important cereal crop from 9-10 per cent to a staggering 15-16pc. The breakthrough was revealed by Professor Ian Godwin (pictured) at the TropAg 2019 conference in Brisbane, following research carried out by the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation. The development has the poultry and pigs industries particularly excited, as well as beef feedlots. The increase in protein is expected to result in about a 50c/head reduction in the cost of producing a 2kg meat bird. The breakthrough is also expected to generate big interest in the 46 Sub-Saharan African countries, where an estimated 500 million people rely on sorghum as a food source.”
20 November Human germline editing needs one message - Science academies and the World Health Organization must act in unison. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03525-0.
“In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) set up an independent expert panel to advise on the oversight and governance of human genome editing. A separate international commission on the clinical use of human germline genome editing gathered for its second meeting in London last week. This commission was established by the US National Academy of Science, the US National Academy of Medicine and Britain’s Royal Society, to recommend standards and criteria for germline genome editing. Both will report next year, and the commission’s report will feed into the WHO process. But the WHO panel has already recommended setting up a public registry for genome-editing experiments. It has also made an interim recommendation that “it would be irresponsible at this time for anyone to proceed with clinical applications of human germline genome editing”, which has been accepted by the agency’s leadership. The international commission has yet to say what it thinks, but it would make little sense for it to disagree. It isn’t entirely clear why separate initiatives are needed, and it is unfortunate that representatives of people with disabilities are not part of the decision-making process. However, it isn’t too late to rectify these issues, and the two initiatives must, in the end, converge.”
15 November Jennifer Doudna CRISPR's unwanted anniversary https://science.sciencemag.org/content/366/6467/777.
“There are key moments in the history of every disruptive technology that can make or break its public perception and acceptance. For CRISPR-based genome editing, such a moment occurred 1 year ago—an unsettling push into an era that will test how society decides to use this revolutionary technology. In November 2018, at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong, scientist He Jiankui announced that he had broken the basic medical mantra of “do no harm” by using CRISPR-Cas9 to edit the genomes of two human embryos in the hope of protecting the twin girls from HIV. His risky and medically unnecessary work stunned the world and defied prior calls by my colleagues and me, and by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences and of Medicine, for an effective moratorium on human germline editing. It was a shocking reminder of the scientific and ethical challenges raised by this powerful technology. Once the details of He's work were revealed, it became clear that although human embryo editing is relatively easy to achieve, it is difficult to do well and with responsibility for lifelong health outcomes.”
14 November Sean Pratt CropLife [Canada] calls for clarity on gene-editing regulations https://www.producer.com/2019/11/croplife-calls-for-clarity-on-gene-editing-regulations/.
“Canada is falling behind other jurisdictions in providing clarity on how it will regulate new crop varieties developed through gene editing techniques such as CRISPR, says CropLife Canada. Japan’s consumer affairs agency recently decided it will not require special labelling for products created through the new breeding technique because it does not require the introduction of foreign DNA. Japan joins a growing list of countries such as the United States, Australia, Argentina and Chile that do not plan to give any extra scrutiny to new traits resulting from gene editing.”
14 November United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization CRISPR Technology and Its Potential to Transform Agriculture http://www.fao.org/webcast/home/en/item/5136/icode/.
“A panel discussion on CRISPR technology and its potential to transform agricultural production, sponsored by the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies and the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See. Panelists: Dr. Brian Staskawicz, Scientific Director of Agricultural Genomics, Innovative Genomics Institute, University of California Berkeley; Dr. Matin Qaim, Professor of International Food Economics and Rural Development, University of Goettingen; Dr. Clint Nesbitt, Senior Director of Science and Regulatory Affairs, Food and Agricultural Section, Biotechnology Innovation Organization.”
11 November Randall J. Platt CRISPR tool modifies genes precisely by copying RNA into the genome -The ultimate goal of genome editing is to be able to make any specific change to the blueprint of life. A ‘search-and-replace’ method for genome editing takes us a giant leap closer to this ambitious goal. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03392-9.
“Writing in Nature, Anzalone et al.1 describe ‘search-and-replace’ genome editing, in which the marriage of two molecular machines enables the genome to be altered precisely. The technique has immediate and profound implications for the biomedical sciences.”
7 November Cormac Sheridan Gene editing enters ‘prime’ time - Early results suggest that prime editors are cleaner than CRISPR–Cas9 and more versatile than base editors, but many questions remain https://www.nature.com/articles/d41587-019-00032-5.
“A paper recently published in Nature from David Liu and co-workers discloses a ‘prime’ gene-editing system many years in the making. The prime system may have fewer undesirable off-target effects than editing with CRISPR–Cas9... In principle, the system, comprising a catalytically impaired Cas9 enzyme and an engineered reverse transcriptase, may be able to address ~89% of the human genetic variants known to be pathogenic. Already, it has been snapped up as the key founding intellectual property for Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup Prime Medicine... Prime editing is still a nascent, albeit highly promising, technology. Demonstrating its feasibility in a wide range of cells and tissues will be key to its future development.”
28 October: Ricardo Oliva, Chonghui Ji, Genelou Atienza-Grande et al. Broad-spectrum resistance to bacterial blight in rice using genome editing Nature BioTechnology DOI https://doi.org/10.1038/s41587-019-0267-z.
“Bacterial blight of rice is an important disease in Asia and Africa…[caused by] the pathogen, Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae (Xoo)… Paddy trials showed that [CRISPR] genome-edited [changes] …endow rice lines with robust, broad-spectrum resistance.”
28 October: Knvul Sheikh Is Crispr the Next Antibiotic? In nature, the gene-editing tool Crispr protects bacteria against viruses. Now it’s being harnessed in the fight against superbugs and the flu. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/28/health/crispr-genetics-antibiotic-resistance.html?smid=tw-nytimesscience&smtyp=cur.
“Desperate to find new medicines against pathogenic microorganisms, scientists are turning to Crispr, the gene-editing tool. Crispr has typically been considered for macroscopic tasks: altering mosquitoes so they can’t spread malaria, editing tomatoes so they are more flavorful and curing certain genetic diseases in humans. Now researchers are harnessing Crispr to turn a bacterium’s machinery against itself, or against viruses that infect human cells. “Crispr is the next step in antimicrobial therapy,” said David Edgell, a biologist at the Western University in London, Ontario, and the lead author of a study published earlier this month in Nature Communications.”
21 October Andrew V. Anzalone, Peyton B. Randolph, Jessie R. Davis, et al. Search-and-replace genome editing without double-strand breaks or donor DNA Nature volume 576, pages149–157(2019) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1711-4.
“Most genetic variants that contribute to disease1 are challenging to correct efficiently and without excess byproducts. Here we describe prime editing, a versatile and precise genome editing method that directly writes new genetic information into a specified DNA site... We performed more than 175 edits in human cells, including targeted insertions, deletions, and all 12 types of point mutation, without requiring double-strand breaks or donor DNA templates. We used prime editing in human cells to correct, efficiently and with few byproducts, the primary genetic causes of sickle cell disease (requiring a transversion in HBB) and Tay–Sachs disease (requiring a deletion in HEXA); to install a protective transversion in PRNP; and to insert various tags and epitopes precisely into target loci.”
21 October: Jon Cohen New ‘prime’ genome editor could surpass CRISPR https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/10/new-prime-genome-editor-could-surpass-crispr.
“CRISPR, an extraordinarily powerful genome-editing tool invented in 2012, can still be clumsy. It sometimes changes genes it shouldn’t, and it edits by hacking through both strands of DNA’s double helix, leaving the cell to clean up the mess — shortcomings that limit its use in basic research and agriculture and pose safety risks in medicine. But a new entrant in the race to refine CRISPR promises to steer around some of its biggest faults. “It’s a huge step in the right direction,” chemist George Church, a CRISPR pioneer at Harvard University, says about the work, which appears online today in Nature. This newfangled CRISPR, dubbed “prime editing,” could make it possible to insert or delete specific sequences at genome targets with less collateral damage. “Prime editors offer more targeting flexibility and greater editing precision,” says David Liu, a chemist at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, whose lab led the new study and earlier invented a popular CRISPR refinement called base editing.”
19 October: Uma Keni Prabhu ‘Agri biotech can help unleash second Green Revolution’ https://www.sundayguardianlive.com/news/agri-biotech-can-help-unleash-second-green-revolution.
“NEW DELHI: “The new technologies have opened up doors and we should use these to be able to produce food needed by 8.2 billion people in future,” said Nobel Laureate Norman Earnest Borlaug, adding that “good public sector supported programs in biotechnology, linked with genetics and breeding are called for”… Emerging technologies like gene editing have immense capacity to address the various challenges in the agriculture and allied sectors. India should, therefore, chart out a well-defined and actionable roadmap urgently for harnessing the potential of these biotechnologies to arrest the growing distress in its farm sector, the report recommends unequivocally.”
18 October: Damian Garde & Adam Feuerstein The ‘unbelievable journey’ of CRISPR — now on Netflix https://www.statnews.com/2019/10/18/crispr-new-netflix-docuseries/.
“Mankind’s ability to edit the fabric of human life has led to scientific upheaval, global debate, and at least one international incident. Now, it’s coming to Netflix. “Unnatural Selection,” a four-part docuseries debuting Friday, dissects the stories, science, and ethics behind genome editing, following academics, biohackers, and patients as they move through a brave new world made possible by technologies like CRISPR.”
18 October: American Society of Human Genetics Researchers Quantify Cas9-Caused Off-Target Mutagenesis in Mice — Findings Reported at ASHG 2019 Annual Meeting https://www.ashg.org/press/201910-otm-cas9.shtml.
“HOUSTON, Texas — Scientists are finding new ways to improve the use of the CRISPR enzyme Cas9 and reduce the chances of off-target mutations in laboratory mice, according to new results from a research collaboration including Lauryl Nutter, PhD, Senior Director, Science and Technology Development at The Centre for Phenogenomics at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto… In 31 of the Cas9-treated mouse lines, the researchers found zero off-target mutations, and in the remaining 20 lines, they found an average of 2.3 off-target mutations. In comparison, among both the treated and untreated mouse lines, they found an average of 3,500 naturally occurring, unique mutations in each animal. “Surprisingly, these results show that the number of naturally-occurring mutations far exceeded those introduced by Cas9,” Dr. Nutter said. “They also show that when guide RNAs are properly designed, off-target mutagenesis is quite rare.””
18 October: Steven Cerier Genetic engineering, CRISPR and food: What the ‘revolution’ will bring in the near future https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2019/10/18/genetic-engineering-crispr-food-revolution-will-bring-near-future/.
“Humankind is on the verge of a genetic revolution that holds great promise and potential. It will change the ways food is grown, medicine is produced, animals are altered and will give rise to new ways of producing plastics, biofuels and chemicals… Gene editing of humans and plants — a revolutionary technique developed just a few years ago that makes genetic tinkering dramatically easier, safer and less expensive — has begun to accelerate this revolution. University of California-Berkeley biochemist Jennifer Doudna, one of the co-inventors of the CRISPR technique: ‘Within the next few years, this new biotechnology will give us higher-yielding crops, healthier livestock, and more nutritious foods. Within a few decades, we might well have genetically engineered pigs that can serve as human organ donors…we are on the cusp of a new era in the history of life on earth — an age in which humans exercise an unprecedented level of control over the genetic composition of the species that co-inhabit our planet. It won’t be long before CRISPR allows us to bend nature to our will in the way that humans have dreamed of since prehistory.’”
14 October Max Planck Gesellschaft Discussion paper on genome editing - Max Planck Society rejects interference with the human germline https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mpg.de%2F13997972%2Fdiskussionspapier-genom-editierung.
“As an organization of basic research, the Max Planck Society bears a special responsibility for the use of new scientific techniques for the benefit of humans and the environment. The Ethics Council of the Max Planck Society has therefore prepared a discussion paper on so-called genome editing, which highlights the potentials and risks of this method. In the paper, the Ethics Council concludes that the various uses of the technology in plant breeding, medicine or pest control bring their own ethical issues. These must be answered individually. For example, the Max Planck Society is aware of the implications of inheritable artificial mutations, such as those caused by genome editing of germ line cells. For the time being, therefore, it will not conduct any research on the genetic modification of germline cells. Instead, she wants to participate in the discussion based on the latest scientific findings and the development of international standards.”
2 October: Gerard Hutching [New Zealand] Scientists given $10m to breed ‘smart’ cattle using gene editing https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/116270918/scientists-given-10m-to-breed-smart-cattle-using-gene-editing.
“AgResearch scientists have been given $10 million to develop “smart” cattle, although the gene editing technology they are using cannot be legally used by Kiwi farmers yet. The money from the Endeavour Fund will be used to help breed cattle better adapted to warmer temperatures and to lower methane emissions. Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods said it was important New Zealand maintained the capability to perform the research.”
2 October: Carl Zimmer These Butterflies Evolved to Eat Poison. How Could That Have Happened? Scientists have unraveled the sequence of gene mutations that enabled the monarch butterfly to thrive on toxic milkweed. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/02/science/monarch-butterflies-milkweed.html.
“Monarch butterflies eat only milkweed, a poisonous plant that should kill them. The butterflies thrive on it, even storing milkweed toxins in their bodies as a defense against hungry birds. For decades, scientists have marveled at this adaptation. On Thursday, a team of researchers announced they had pinpointed the key evolutionary steps that led to it. Only three genetic mutations were necessary to turn the butterflies from vulnerable to resistant, the researchers reported in the journal Nature. They were able to introduce these mutations into fruit flies, and suddenly they were able to eat milkweed, too… Noah Whiteman, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, …and his colleagues figured out how to use Crispr, the gene-editing technology, to introduce the mutations into fruit flies.”
1 October, 2019: Royal Society of Biology. “The wave has only got bigger” — Co-inventor of CRISPR gene-editing technology Jennifer Doudna talks to Tom Ireland about one of the biggest science stories of the decade The Biologist 66(5) (RSB 10th Anniversary Special Issue) p10–15 https://thebiologist.rsb.org.uk/biologist/158-biologist/features/2230-precision-engineering-2
“In 2012 American biochemist Jennifer Doudna and her collaborator, Emmanuelle Charpentier, proposed that CRISPR — a group of genes and molecules used by bacteria to recognise and destroy viral DNA — could be re-purposed as a powerfully simple and programmable gene-editing tool. Their work led to an explosion of interest in CRISPR and exciting new applications of gene-editing across all areas of biology. With its unprecedented efficiency and ease of use, CRISPR has not only supplanted all previous genetic engineering technologies, but has revolutionised what is possible in life science — at the same time raising profound questions about what society should and should not do with such powerful technology.”
27 September: David Yaffe-Bellany Avocado Toast, Meet Gene Editing — Scientists in the U.S. and Mexico have mapped the DNA of several varieties, work that could help the fruit survive the effects of climate change https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/27/business/avocados-genetic-modification.html.
“Last month, a team of scientists in the United States and Mexico announced that it had mapped the DNA sequences of several types of avocados, including the popular Hass variety. That research is likely to become the foundation for breeding techniques and genetic modifications designed to produce avocados that can resist disease or survive in drier conditions.”
26 September: Beth Kenkel Nanoblades: Tiny CRISPR Ninjas for Genome Editing Difficult Cells https://blog.addgene.org/nanoblades-crispr-genome-editing-difficult-cells?utm_campaign=crispr&utm_content=101195222&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&hss_channel=tw-82411462.
“CRISPR is a simple and versatile tool for genome engineering, but its utility is dependent on its ability to infiltrate cells. Options for CRISPR delivery include plasmid transfection, RNP electroporation, and viral transduction; but these methods aren’t stealthy enough to gain access to some cells and tissues, such as human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). Nanoblades, a new CRISPR delivery method developed by the Ricci Lab, adds a covert tool to the CRISPR tool box. Nanoblades are engineered murine leukemia virus (MLV)-like particles loaded with Cas9-gRNA ribonucleoproteins (RNPs). According to the authors, they named their tool Nanoblades because they think of these particles as tiny DNA cutting ninjas that deliver CRISPR to multiple types of targets: primary cells, embryos, and animals. Nanoblades can also carry different types of CRISPR cargo including RNPs for indel formation via NHEJ, precise modification with Homology Directed Repair (HDR), CRISPR activation or repression, transgenic mouse line creation, and in vivo gene editing of mice, with the potential to be used for other types of CRISPR applications. “
25 September: Sharon Begley ‘I just want to live’: California man pleads with scientists around the world to ‘CRISPR me’ https://www.statnews.com/2019/09/25/plea-to-scientists-crispr-me/.
“For the last few months, he has been asking scientists and companies if they’ll give him the biological supplies he would need — he isn’t always clear on what those might be — to receive the tardigrade gene, using CRISPR or some other technology to slip it into his cells. Hashimoto’s experiment, Vohryzek told STAT, demonstrates “that I’m not proposing something insane. … I want to participate in [the] use of CRISPR on full genome gene insertion.””
25 September: Emily Waltz With CRISPR and machine learning, startups fast-track crops to consume less, produce more — Small players take on big seed conglomerates with next-generation non-GMO crops. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41587-019-00027-2.
“Inari, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, plans to use the total $144 million it has raised so far to develop crops that are more productive and consume less water and fertilizer than those currently produced by seed conglomerates. The company will focus on major crops such as corn, soybean, wheat and tomato. “All the genetics [for these crops] are owned by just a couple of multinational companies, and we want to challenge that,” says Ponsi Trivisvavet, CEO of Inari. “We want to bring back genetic diversity to make seeds that are better for the environment and the farmer,” she says”
24 September: Steven Cerier Viewpoint: How organic industry opposition to CRISPR gene editing encourages pesticide use https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2019/09/24/viewpoint-how-organic-industry-opposition-to-crispr-gene-editing-encourages-pesticide-use/.
“As crop biotechnology continues to advance, conventional farmers are gaining access to new tools that drastically cut pesticide use. This downward trend in chemical dependency goes back to the introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops in the 1990s, and will only accelerate as more gene-edited crops and animals reach the market in the near future. The organic industry, meanwhile, continues to sit out this sustainability revolution for ideological and economic reasons, which ultimately encourages pesticide use.”
24 September: Amy Maxmen CRISPR might be the banana’s only hope against a deadly fungus — Researchers are using the gene-editing tool to boost the fruit’s defences and prevent the extinction of a major commercial variety. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02770-7.
“The race to engineer the next-generation banana is on. The Colombian government confirmed last month that a banana-killing fungus has invaded the Americas — the source of much of the world’s banana supply. The invasion has given new urgency to efforts to create fruit that can withstand the scourge. Scientists are using a mix of approaches to save the banana. A team in Australia has inserted a gene from wild bananas into the top commercial variety — known as the Cavendish — and are currently testing these modified bananas in field trials. Researchers are also turning to the powerful, precise gene-editing tool CRISPR to boost the Cavendish’s resilience against the fungus, known as Fusarium wilt tropical race 4 (TR4).”
16 September: Marinelle Rodrigues, Sara W. McBride, Karthik Hullahalli, et al. Conjugative delivery of CRISPR-Cas9 for the selective depletion of antibiotic-resistant enterococci https://aac.asm.org/content/early/2019/09/05/AAC.01454-19 also https://www.reddit.com/r/science/comments/d58qh0/researchers_have_engineered_a_plasmid_with_crispr/.
“…Here we present work describing the adaption of [a] CRISPR-Cas system… for the selective removal of antibiotic resistance genes” from intestinal bacteria.
11 September: Michelle Cortez Chinese Scientists Edit DNA in Attempt to Cure Man’s Cancer, HIV https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-11/chinese-scientists-edit-dna-in-attempt-to-cure-man-s-cancer-hiv and https://www.wired.com/story/chinese-scientists-try-to-cure-one-mans-hiv-with-crispr/
“Chinese researchers safely treated a man with leukemia and HIV using gene-edited stem cells, a step forward in a field that was shaken last year when another Chinese scientist used the same technology to create the world’s first genetically-edited babies. The man’s medical case, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, is the first detailed report in a major academic journal of how doctors are using the experimental tool Crispr to manipulate the DNA of a living patient in an effort to cure disease… “This is a green light for the whole field of gene editing,” Carl June, a pioneer in the use of gene therapy to treat cancer and HIV at the University of Pennsylvania, said in an interview. He published a companion piece in the journal.”
4 September: Norma Aliaga Fanco, et al. Identification of transgene-free CRISPR edited plants of rice, tomato and Arabidopsis by monitoring DsRED fluorescence in dry seeds https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2019.01150/abstract (ISAAA Crop B iotech Update New Cloning System Allows Development of Transgene-free Edited Crops http://www.isaaa.org/kc/cropbiotechupdate/article/default.asp?ID=17722).
“Efficient elimination of the editing machinery remains a challenge in plant biotechnology after genome editing to minimize the probability of off-target mutations, but it is also important to deliver end users with edited plants free of foreign DNA. Using the modular cloning system Golden Braid we have included a fluorescence-dependent transgene monitoring module to the genome editing tool box.”
4 September: Verenardo Meeme African scientists urge use of gene editing to improve crops http://allianceforscience.cornell.edu/blog/2019/09/african-scientists-urge-use-gene-editing-improve-crops/.
“Though genome editing tools should be integrated into Africa’s farming systems to boost crops yields, enhance nutrition and accelerate the breeding process for new varieties, they must be accompanied by new communication efforts, scientists say. ‘‘Gene editing provides an opportunity to capture the tremendous potential for African scientists to develop homegrown solutions to food security and climate change by producing high-yielding seeds [that are] disease- and pest-resistant with a sound, diverse nutritional base,’’ said Prof. Yaye Gassama, chair of the African Union’s High-level Panel on Emerging Technologies (APET) and vice chair of the National Science Academy of Senegal.”
30 August: Robert Service Modified CRISPR cuts and splices whole genomes https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6456/849?utm_campaign=toc_sci-mag_2019-08-29.
“Now, researchers report they’ve adapted CRISPR and combined it with other tools to cut and splice large genome fragments with ease. “This new paper is incredibly exciting and a huge step forward for synthetic biology” …The technique will enable synthetic biologists to take on “grand challenges,” she says, such as “writing of information to DNA and storing it in a bacterial genome or creating new hybrid bacterial species that can carry out novel [metabolic reactions] for biochemistry or materials production.”
26 August: Kevin V. Pixley, Jose B. Falck-Zepeda, Ken E. Giller, et al. Genome Editing, Gene Drives, and Synthetic Biology: Will They Contribute to Disease-Resistant Crops, and Who Will Benefit? https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev-phyto-080417-045954.
“Genetically engineered crops have been grown for more than 20 years, resulting in widespread albeit variable benefits for farmers and consumers. We review current, likely, and potential genetic engineering (GE) applications for the development of disease-resistant crop cultivars. Gene editing, gene drives, and synthetic biology offer novel opportunities to control viral, bacterial, and fungal pathogens, parasitic weeds, and insect vectors of plant pathogens. We conclude that there will be no shortage of GE applications to tackle disease resistance and other farmer and consumer priorities for agricultural crops. Beyond reviewing scientific prospects for genetically engineered crops, we address the social institutional forces that are commonly overlooked by biological scientists. Intellectual property regimes, technology regulatory frameworks, the balance of funding between public- and private-sector research, and advocacy by concerned civil society groups interact to define who uses which GE technologies, on which crops, and for the benefit of whom. Ensuring equitable access to the benefits of genetically engineered crops requires affirmative policies, targeted investments, and excellent science.”
23 August Steven H. Strauss, Wout Boerjan, Vincent Chiang, et al. Certification for gene-edited forests https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6455/767.2/tab-pdf and https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/petition-in-support-of-modern-forest-biotechnology.html and https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/08/scientists-say-sustainable-forestry-organizations-should-lift-ban-biotech-trees.
“Forest certification bodies were established to provide consumers with confidence that they are purchasing sustainably sourced wood products… However, certification bodies have consistently excluded all genetically engineered or gene-edited (GE) trees from certification, including from field research on certified lands that is essential for understanding local benefits and impacts. We, leading forest biotechnology scientists from around the world, with the support of more than 1000 globally diverse signatories to a recent detailed petition, call for all forest certification systems to promptly examine and modify these policies.”
22 August: Antonio Regalado The next trick for CRISPR is gene-editing pain away — A family of street performers could walk on coals. Here’s how the secret of why they felt no pain could benefit others https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614210/the-next-trick-for-crispr-is-gene-editing-pain-away/.
“The street performer was only 10 years old. He put knives through his arms and walked on hot embers. By 14 he was dead. Someone dared him to jump from a roof. He did it, knowing it wouldn’t hurt. The case of the Pakistani boy with a rare genetic disorder was described in 2006. He could feel warmth and cold and the texture of objects. But he never felt pain. Now scientists have paired the discovery with the gene-editing tool CRISPR, in what they say is a step toward a gene therapy that could block severe pain caused by diabetes, cancer, or car accidents without the addictive effects of opioids.”
21 August Masatoshi Toda Rain-resistant wheat variety developed using genome editing http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201908210010.html.
“Scientists have created a rain-resistant wheat variety using genome-editing technology, a breakthrough that could lead to the development of higher-quality flour. The research team from the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) and Okayama University said genome editing enabled them to develop the variety in just about a year. It takes nearly 10 years to develop such a wheat species using conventional breeding technology because the plants must be bred over generations. The wheat used for the study is not a species currently sold on the market, but the team believes the method utilized could someday succeed in developing an edible variety resistant to rain. “The variety we developed has excellent properties, so we’ll use it as a parent to create new species through breeding,” a team member said.”
20 August: Steve Cerier Viewpoint: Organic food movement ‘shoots itself in the foot’ by rejecting CRISPR gene editing https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2019/08/20/viewpoint-organic-food-movement-shoots-itself-in-the-foot-by-rejecting-crispr-gene-editing/
“While most organic food producers view rejection of technology as a way to set their “natural” products apart from the conventional alternatives, they have miscalculated the importance of plant breeding advances and may put themselves at a severe competitive disadvantage as a result. NBTs are beginning to radically improve food production, yielding products that appeal to both consumers and farmers. This feat cannot be replicated by organic growing practices.”
14 August: Tina Hesman Saey CRISPR enters its first human clinical trials: The gene editor targets cancer, blood disorders and blindness https://www.sciencenews.org/article/crispr-gene-editor-first-human-clinical-trials.
“In the first spate of clinical trials, scientists are using CRISPR/Cas9 to combat cancer and blood disorders in people. In these tests, researchers remove some of a person’s cells, edit the DNA and then inject the cells back in, now hopefully armed to fight disease. Researchers are also set to see how CRISPR/Cas9 works inside the human body. In an upcoming trial, people with an inherited blindness will have the molecular scissors injected into their eyes. Those tests, if successful, could spur future trials for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis and a wide variety of other genetic diseases, affecting millions of people worldwide.”
13 August: Ricki Lewis How a one-time CRISPR shot could obliterate lower back pain https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2019/08/13/how-a-one-time-crispr-shot-could-obliterate-lower-back-pain/
“Imagine a single injection that quells the inflammation behind lower back pain — perhaps forever. CRISPR may make that possible by dampening the immune system’s cytokine signals, according to a report in the July issue of Human Gene Therapy.”
10 August: Nuño Domínguez Scientists rebel against European transgenic law — Thousands of researchers require the EU to remove obstacles to genetic editing to create fruits and vegetables more nutritious and resistant to climate change https://elpais.com/elpais/2019/08/07/ciencia/1565191737_505932.html?id_externo_rsoc=TW_CC.
“A few weeks ago, scientists from 127 research institutes across Europe that group some 25,000 scientists demanded that the EU authorities urgently change the legislation on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), transgenics. In an open letter addressed to the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council, scientists warn that the current regulation leaves Europe out of play in the face of the possibility of designing new plant varieties using CRISPR to create “sustainable agriculture” in the context of climate change with drought-resistant varieties that need less water and pesticides. “The ability to use genetic editing is crucial for the well-being and food security of European citizens,” the text claimed.”
8 August 2019: Jose A. Bernat Crispr Can Help Solve Our Looming Food Crisis — Here’s How — There’s not enough land to feed everyone on Earth without ruining the climate, a new IPCC report shows. Gene-edited crops could help reduce agriculture’s footprint. https://www.wired.com/story/gene-editing-food-climate-change/?verso=true.
“To have a shot at truly combating climate change, countries around the world are going to have to finally face the dirt-encrusted, fertilizer-soaked, methane-farting elephant in the room: agriculture… And though far from a cure-all, the potential for gene editing to make every acre of land more productive even in the face of climate change has captured the imagination of plant scientists, the agtech industry, and governments alike. These days, they’re placing ever-bigger bets on Crispr’s ability to future-proof the world’s food supply from the threats of an increasingly unpredictable environment.”
2 August: Jon Cohen, Nirja Desai With its CRISPR revolution, China becomes a world leader in genome editing https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/08/its-crispr-revolution-china-becomes-world-leader-genome-editing?utm_campaign=ScienceNow&utm_source=JHubbard&utm_medium=Facebook.
“The lights are burning late at CRISPR labs around the world. In 2012, the year researchers transformed a bacterial immune system into the fast and versatile tool for genome engineering, scientific publications mentioning CRISPR totaled 127. Since then there have been more than 14,000. Although the United States has had the most CRISPR publications — and continues to have the most cited papers — China is now a close second and is pouring money into CRISPR’s uses. With support from the Pulitzer Center, Science visited scientists in five Chinese cities who are harnessing CRISPR in a wide range of disciplines. China’s biggest push is in agriculture but researchers there are also applying the editor on a large scale in animals, with pig organs for human transplants the most provocative goal. And China is aggressively exploring genome editing in medicine, having launched far more clinical trials using CRISPR, mainly for cancer, than any country.”
31 July: Sharon Begley The latest CRISPR patent fight is on. So is the mudslinging https://www.statnews.com/2019/07/31/latest-crispr-patent-fight-mudslinging/?utm_content=bufferf2828&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=twitter_organic.
“The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard lied about who invented the use of CRISPR genome editing in animal cells, and its lead CRISPR scientist Feng Zhang made statements to the patent office that he knew were “untrue,” attorneys for the University of California and its partners claim in legal documents filed Tuesday night with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In strikingly tough language, the lawyers accused the Broad of trying to “deceive the Office” in order to win patents on the revolutionary technology, claimed another Broad scientist made a “materially false declaration” about when Zhang’s lab got CRISPR to work, and argued that Zhang didn’t know what molecules the genome editor needed until he read a rival’s key paper — all of which makes Zhang’s work “unpatentable.””
31 July: Jon Cohen China’s CRISPR push in animals promises better meat, novel therapies, and pig organs for people https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/07/china-s-crispr-push-animals-promises-better-meat-novel-therapies-and-pig-organs-people.
“China now has at least four groups of CRISPR researchers doing gene editing with large colonies of monkeys. “The most startling part of what is coming out of China is seeing how they have just a brute-force approach,” says reproductive biologist Jon Hennebold at the Oregon National Primate Research Center in Hillsboro. “The level of animal support they have to do those experiments is really astounding.” It’s not just monkeys. China’s researchers have racked up a long list of CRISPR firsts in dogs, mice, rats, pigs, and rabbits. That research promises higher quality meats, disease-resistant livestock, and new medical treatments and organs for human transplantation. So far, many of the animals are simply proofs of concept. Despite the multitude of CRISPR-altered monkeys, for example, Chinese teams have published “very little follow-up in terms of characterizing what these mutations mean from a [disease] model or a treatment perspective,” Hennebold says.”
29 July: Hanae Armitage CRISPR algorithm predicts how well gene editing will work https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2019/07/29/crispr-algorithm-predicts-how-well-gene-editing-will-work/
“Now, using the power of machine learning, James Zou, PhD, assistant professor of biomedical data science, and collaborators have created an algorithm that predicts what type of mistakes are likely to occur during CRISPR editing. A paper detailing the work appears in Nature Biotechnology.”
29 July: Rob Stein Sickle Cell Patient Reveals Why She Is Volunteering For Landmark Gene-Editing Study https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/07/29/744826505/sickle-cell-patient-reveals-why-she-is-volunteering-for-landmark-gene-editing-st
“Victoria Gray is waiting patiently in a hospital room at the Sarah Cannon Research Institute in Nashville. “It’s a good time to get healed,” she says. The 34-year-old from Forest, Miss., has struggled with sickle cell disease throughout her life. Gray is at the hospital because she volunteered for one of the most anticipated medical experiments in decades: the first attempt to use the gene-editing technique CRISPR to treat a genetic disorder in the U.S. She’s the first patient ever to be publicly identified as being involved in such a study. “I always had hoped that something will come along,” Gray says in an exclusive interview with NPR. “It is just amazing how far things have come. I just want to kind of help bring awareness to this disease and let other people know that there is hope.””
29 July: Jon Cohen To feed its 1.4 billion, China bets big on genome editing of crops https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/07/feed-its-14-billion-china-bets-big-genome-editing-crops.
“IN BEIJING AND DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA — If Gao Caixia were a farmer, she might be spread a little thin. Down the hall from her office at a branch of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) here in Beijing, seeds from a strain of unusually soft rice and a variety of wheat with especially fat grains and resistance to a common fungus sprout in a tissue culture room. A short stroll away, wild tomato plants far hardier than domestic varieties but bearing the same sweet fruit crowd a greenhouse, along with herbicide-resistant corn and potatoes that are slow to brown when cut. In other lab rooms Gao grows new varieties of lettuce, bananas, ryegrass, and strawberries. But Gao isn’t a farmer, and that cornucopia isn’t meant for the table — not yet, anyway. She is a plant scientist working at the leading edge of crop improvement. Every one of those diverse crops has been a target for conventional plant breeders, who have slowly and painstakingly worked to endow them with traits to make them more productive, nutritious, or hardy. But Gao is improving them at startling speeds by using the genome editor CRISPR.
25 July: Marilynn Marchione First CRISPR study inside the body to start in US https://apnews.com/132d29e760834699b12c0c5b0a77e4c0?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=APHealthScience&utm_campaign=SocialFlow
“Patients are about to be enrolled in the first study to test a gene-editing technique known as CRISPR inside the body to try to cure an inherited form of blindness. People with the disease have normal eyes but lack a gene that converts light into signals to the brain that enable sight. The experimental treatment aims to supply kids and adults with a healthy version of the gene they lack, using a tool that cuts or “edits” DNA in a specific spot. It’s intended as a onetime treatment that permanently alters the person’s native DNA.”
25 July: Kemal Malik Genome editing: Europe can embrace innovation while assuring safety — Bayer calls on the College of Commissioners for a cross-functional platform where parties can discuss a way forward for genome editing. https://www.politico.eu/sponsored-content/genome-editing-europe-can-embrace-innovation-while-assuring-safety/.
“Having learned about the need to reconsider well-entrenched ways of thinking from past debates on the regulation of new technologies, we support initiatives that advance a broad stakeholder and societal debate on the future use of genome editing in Europe… Bayer, along with leading scientists, asks for an EU-wide regulatory approach to genome-edited plants that considers not only the technical process of breeding and development, but, more importantly, the end product of that process too.”
25 July: Umeå Plant Science Centre Scientists call for new European regulations for genetically modified organisms https://www.upsc.se/about-upsc/news/5605-scientists-call-for-new-european-regulations-for-genetically-modified-organisms.html?fbclid=IwAR0OKCNGmd4YFfhf40y5gxpHY4GFJiiME3nC3E8OG32EOLKa-ksAYd7To-A
“Today, on the anniversary of the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on plant breeding with the help of gen-editing, an open letter was sent to the Swedish European parliamentarians and the Swedish government. The letter is a call to action for an expedited change of the European legislation for genetically modified organisms (GMO). It has been signed by the leaders of 14 Swedish universities/research centres, royal science academies or research financiers as representatives of the independent Swedish research community.”
25 July: VIB European scientists ask the EU Parliament and EU Commission reconsider genome editing for sustainable agriculture and food production http://www.vib.be/en/news/Pages/Open%20Statement%20for%20the%20use%20of%20genome%20editing%20for%20sustainable%20agriculture%20and%20food%20production%20in%20the%20EU.aspx
“European scientists urgently reach out to the newly elected European Parliament and European Commission to enable the potential of genome editing for sustainable agriculture and food production… The European scientific community, signatory to this Open Statement, urgently calls upon the European institutions including the European Council, the new European Parliament and the upcoming European Commission to take appropriate legal action to enable European scientists and breeders to apply genome editing for sustainable agriculture and food. The ability to use genome editing is crucial for the well-fare and food security of European citizens.”
24 July: Mateusz Perkowski USDA clears gene-edited, virus-resistant tomatoes https://www.capitalpress.com/nation_world/usda-clears-gene-edited-virus-resistant-tomatoes/article_375a039e-ae38-11e9-b0dd-47a18a6c6225.html.
“Gene-edited tomatoes that are resistant to common viruses can be introduced into the U.S. without coming under federal regulations for genetically engineered plants. The USDA has determined that six tomato lines developed by Nexgen Plants of Australia aren’t potential plant pests and thus don’t fall under the agency’s jurisdiction for regulating biotech crops. Nexgen altered the tomatoes with “particle bombardment” of gene sequences that allows the plants to detect and destroy the tomato spotted wilt virus and cauliflower mosaic virus.”
23 July: Heide Ledford CRISPR conundrum: Strict European court ruling leaves food-testing labs without a plan https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02162-x
“A landmark European court ruling that made gene-edited crops subject to the same stringent regulations as other genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has created a conundrum for food-testing laboratories across Europe. The ruling that the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) delivered on 25 July 2018 requires these scattered laboratories — which already spot-check freighters and supermarkets for foods that contain unapproved GMOs — to look for gene-edited crops. But there is no easy way to do this. Gene edits often alter just a few DNA letters, whereas conventional genetic modifications often involve transplanting longer stretches of DNA from one species to another. “Some of these [gene-editing] alterations are small enough that they are simply indistinguishable from naturally occurring organisms,” says Martin Wasmer, who studies the legal aspects of genome editing at the Leibniz University Hannover, Germany. “It will not be possible to enforce in those cases.” Scientists struggle to detect the unauthorized sale of gene-edited crops whose altered DNA can mimic natural mutations.”
23 July: Ron Bailey E.U. Regulators Can’t Detect the Gene-Edited Crops They Banned The difference between two identical genes — one edited and the other a natural mutation — is entirely metaphysical. https://reason.com/2019/07/23/e-u-regulators-cant-detect-the-gene-edited-crops-they-banned/.
“The European Court of Justice ruled last summer that the European Union’s absurd regulatory scheme for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) must be applied to gene-edited crops. Such regulations, however, are scientifically nonsensical. GMO crops (typically modified by adding genes from other organisms)and gene-edited crops (using techniques like CRISPR to modify genes already in the crop variety) are safe for people and for the environment. Such crops need no more regulation than do crops created via conventional techniques such as crossbreeding or random mutation by blasting them with ionizing radiation and harsh chemicals. Now foods labs are telling would-be E.U. regulators that there are no tests that can reliably distinguish between gene-edited and conventional crop varieties. Why? Because many of the edited genes are indistinguishable from those in naturally occurring organisms. Consequently, E.U. regulators are worried that gene-edited horrors from the U.S., such as Calyxt’s healthy high-oleic-acid oil or Intrexon’s non-browning lettuce, might sneak into European supermarkets undetected.”
20 July: Naaman Zhou Taking the sting out: Australian gene editing is crossing the pain threshold — A Sydney team has developed a box jellyfish antidote so simple it can go on as a spray. But it’s only the first step https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jul/21/taking-the-sting-out-australian-gene-editing-is-crossing-the-pain-threshold.
“In May, the Sydney-based scientist and his team of 22 announced they had potentially cured the sting of the box jellyfish, the most venomous creature in the world, whose toxins cause excruciating pain as a best-case scenario, and cardiac arrest as the worst. It was a simple but groundbreaking technique, using the latest in genetics technology — Crispr, the gene-editing tool that allows scientists to make precise changes to DNA.”
16 July: Jef Akst US Senators Call for International Guidelines for Germline Editing https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/us-senators-call-for-international-guidelines-for-germline-editing-66162
“Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced a resolution yesterday (July 15) calling for global collaboration in developing guidelines for the use of gene editing technologies in the context of reproduction. The senators specifically pledge their support for the international commission established in May by the US National Academy of Medicine, the US National Academy of Sciences, and the Royal Society of the UK to develop a framework for scientific research into the use of germline editing, and encourages the US Secretary of State to help “forge an international consensus regarding the limits of ethical clinical use of genome-edited human embryos.”
15 July Yingxiao Zhang, Aimee A. Malzahn, Simon Sretenovic et al. The emerging and uncultivated potential of CRISPR technology in plant science https://www.nature.com/articles/s41477-019-0461-5.
“This Review intends to provide an informative summary of the latest developments and breakthroughs of CRISPR technology, with a focus on achievements and potential utility in plant biology…”
13 July: Rod A. Herman, Maria Fedorova, Nicholas P. Storer Will Following the Regulatory Script for GMOs Promote Public Acceptance of Gene-Edited Crops? https://www.cell.com/trends/biotechnology/fulltext/S0167-7799(19)30156-8?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0167779919301568%3Fshowall%3Dtrue.
“Risk-disproportionate regulation of gene-edited crops has been proposed to gain public acceptance for this breeding technique. However, confounding safety regulations with advocacy for an underlying technology risks weakening achievement of both objectives. Dedicated factual communication and education from trusted sources is likely to better support public acceptance of gene-edited crops.”
12 July: Zachery Eanes This RTP startup is using gene editing to improve crops, from corn to raspberries https://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article232437938.html.
“As Tom Adams sees it, there are two main problems in the world related to food. There are those who don’t have enough of it and there are others that have too much of the wrong stuff. He’s hoping his startup, nestled near the center of Research Triangle Park, can be a part of changing that equation. Just over a year old, Pairwise is at the forefront of agriculture technology, creating experimental crops that might one day show up on the shelves at your grocery store. The company uses CRISPR technology — most famous for its controversial use by a Chinese scientist in an attempt to make two unborn children resistant to HIV — to create plants that are, in the words of Pairwise’s head of trait development, Mike Mann, “more affordable, attainable and also convenient.” Adams, the company’s CEO, thinks if they can improve produce in slight ways, it will help people “go to the produce aisle instead of the potato chip aisle.””