NATURE 09/03/16 Welcome to the CRISPR zoo - Birds and bees are just the beginning for a burgeoning technology. Timothy Doran's 11-year-old daughter is allergic to eggs.
And like about 2% of children worldwide who share the condition, she is unable to receive many routine vaccinations because they are produced using chicken eggs. Doran, a molecular biologist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Geelong, Australia, thinks that he could solve this problem using the powerful gene-editing tool CRISPR–Cas9.
Most egg allergies are caused by one of just four proteins in the white, and when Doran's colleagues altered the gene that encodes one of these in bacteria, the resulting protein no longer triggered a reaction in blood serum from people who were known to be allergic to it1. Doran thinks that using CRISPR to edit the gene in chickens could result in hypoallergenic eggs. NATURE 14/04/16 Gene-edited CRISPR mushroom escapes US regulation A fungus engineered with the CRISPR–Cas9 technique can be cultivated and sold without further oversight. Jose A.
Bernat Bacete/Getty Images The common white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) has been modified to resist browning. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will not regulate a mushroom genetically modified with the gene-editing tool CRISPR–Cas9. The long-awaited decision means that the mushroom can be cultivated and sold without passing through the agency's regulatory process — making it the first CRISPR-edited organism to receive a green light from the US government.
“The research community will be very happy with the news,” says Caixia Gao, a plant biologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’s Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology in Beijing, who was not involved in developing the mushroom. Yinong Yang, a plant pathologist at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) in University Park, engineered the common white button (Agaricus bisporus) mushroom to resist browning.
The USDA’s answer came this week. NATURE 03/06/15 CRISPR, the disruptor. Illustration by Sébastien Thibault Three years ago, Bruce Conklin came across a method that made him change the course of his lab.
Conklin, a geneticist at the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco, California, had been trying to work out how variations in DNA affect various human diseases, but his tools were cumbersome. When he worked with cells from patients, it was hard to know which sequences were important for disease and which were just background noise. NATURE 19/10/15 CRISPR tweak may help gene-edited crops bypass biosafety regulation - Technique deletes plant genes without adding foreign DNA. Je Wook Woo These lettuce-plantlets have had their genomes edited with CRISPR/Cas9, but do not contain foreign DNA.
A twist on a revolutionary gene-editing technique may make it possible to modify plant genomes while sidestepping national biosafety regulations, South Korean researchers say. Plant scientists have been quick to experiment with the popular CRISPR/Cas9 technique, which uses an enzyme called Cas9, guided by two RNA strands, to precisely cut segments of DNA in a genome. By disabling specific genes in wheat and rice, for example, researchers hope to make disease-resistant strains of the crops.
But the process can introduce bits of foreign DNA into plant genomes. Kim and his team tweaked the technique so that it can delete specific plant genes without introducing foreign DNA, creating plants that he and his colleagues think “might be exempt from current GMO regulations”2. “In terms of science, our approach is just another improvement in the field of genome editing. DNA-free CRISPR.
NATURE 14/03/17 CRISPR, microbes and more are joining the war against crop killers Agricultural scientists look beyond synthetic chemistry to battle pesticide resistance. Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty A crop duster sprays fungicide on a banana plantation in the Philippines.
The first thing Broc Zoller does every morning is check the weather forecast. For the past five years, California farmers like him have struggled through historic drought. Now they face the opposite problem. In the first months of 2017, it has already rained more than it did all of last year in Kelseyville, where Zoller grows wine grapes and walnuts, and leases out land to pear growers. But the selection is getting slimmer, thanks to resistance. Resistance to conventional pesticides — among insects, weeds or microbial pathogens — is common on farms worldwide. For several decades, the agrochemical industry has simply rolled out new chemicals to replace the old ones.
So scientists are pursuing alternatives that may reduce or replace synthetic pesticides. “Emerging pest resistance is a big driver for finding alternatives,” says Olson. NATURE 06/10/16 UK bioethicists eye designer babies and CRISPR cows. Vincent J.
Musi/NGC Designer livestock is one topic up for consideration by a UK bioethics group. From designer babies to engineered mosquitoes, advances in genome-editing technologies such as CRISPR–Cas9 have raised the possibility of tremendous scientific advances — and serious ethical concerns. In a preliminary 130-page report released on 30 September, the influential Nuffield Council on Bioethics in London announced that two applications of the technology demanded further attention: genome editing in human embryos and in livestock. The two areas were selected on the basis of months of analysis and input from scholars and the public, said Hugh Whittall, director of the Nuffield Council, at a briefing on 29 September.