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“Green light in the tunnel”: Opinion of the Swedish Board of Agriculture – A CRISPR-Cas9-mutant but not a GMO. The plants which it is all about: Some of the seeds from this Arabidopsis plant will be considered to be GMOs, others not.

“Green light in the tunnel”: Opinion of the Swedish Board of Agriculture – A CRISPR-Cas9-mutant but not a GMO

Photo: Stefan Jansson The Swedish Board of Agriculture has, after questions from researchers in Umeå and Uppsala, confirmed the interpretation that some plants in which the genome has been edited using CRISPR-Cas9 technology do not fall under the European GMO definition. This is important for the wide use of such plants to contribute to solving some of the escalating challenges of mankind. CRISPR: A path through the thicket. L.

CRISPR: A path through the thicket

Souci/BSIP/SPL Human embryos are prime targets for genome editing. The ease of use, accuracy and efficiency of the genome-editing tool CRISPR/Cas9 has led to its broad adoption in research, as well as to preliminary applications in agriculture and in gene therapies involving non-reproductive (somatic) cells. It is also possible in some jurisdictions to deploy CRISPR/Cas9, and related techniques1, in human germline cells (sperm and eggs) as well as in early embryos2. In September, a network of more than 30 scientists, ethicists, policymakers, journal editors and funders called the Hinxton Group gathered in Manchester, UK, to address the ethical and policy issues surrounding the editing of human genomes in the early stages of development and in germline cells (see go.nature.com/xikxv2). Here, we lay out some key points emerging from the Hinxton meeting that are likely to gain more focus from the international community in the coming months.

Biohacking, el “hazlo tú mismo” de la ciencia. ¿Qué es el biohacking?

Biohacking, el “hazlo tú mismo” de la ciencia

Esta filosofía desarrollada algunas décadas atrás, aboga por el acceso gratuito, libre y práctico a la información científica. ¿Te atreves a montarte tu propio laboratorio? Si hay algo de lo que podemos presumir los divulgadores científicos es de que estamos consiguiendo que el mundo se interese por la ciencia. Y esto se puede ver en movimientos tan increíbles como el biohacking. Imaginad la filosofía hacker, información libre para todos, pero puesta al servicio de la ingeniería molecular y biológica. Pero, ¿qué es el biohacking? Nacida en el mismísimo seno del MIT, la filosofía del hacking defiende el libre acceso, la libertad de información y la mejora de la calidad de vida para todo el mundo. Dentro de la filosofía del biohacking existe un aire sofisticado de “transhumanismo”, muy biopunk.

Untitled. Untitled. Gene-editing method revives hopes for transplanting pig organs into people. Thanks to a powerful new gene-editing technique, researchers have made a stride toward engineering safer pig organs for human transplants.

Gene-editing method revives hopes for transplanting pig organs into people

In a paper in Science today, they describe using the CRISPR editing method in pig cells to destroy potentially harmful DNA sequences at 62 sites in the animal’s genome. It’s the most extreme example to date of the precise yet widespread genetic changes possible through CRISPR. It’s also raising hopes that the technology can finally render pig organs fit for human bodies—a goal that some of the paper’s authors are already pushing further with a private company. About 122,500 people in the United States alone are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, and some have argued that a steady supply of pig organs could make up the shortage, because they are similar in size to those of people. But so far, no one has been able to get around the violent immune response that pig cells provoke. Regulatory uncertainty over genome editing : Nature Plants. Traditional genetic modification transfers whole genes from, in principle, any organism to any other organism.

Regulatory uncertainty over genome editing : Nature Plants

The process can generate fundamentally new traits in plants that would be impossible through conventional breeding. For instance, the insertion of genes from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into cotton or maize renders the plants highly resistant to lepidopteron pests; these lepidopteron-resistant crops are grown around the world. However, this technique cannot be used to make small edits to existing genes, and can lead to the random disruption of native genes because the destination of the inserted DNA cannot be dictated.

In contrast to traditional genetic modification, genome editing makes use of site-directed nucleases to create breaks at specific, pre-determined points in the host genome. In this way, genes can be tweaked to function better or can be completely switched off. Research on gene editing in embryos is justified, group says. Genetic editing of human embryos “has tremendous value” to help solve important scientific questions, and should proceed despite potential worries about use of the technique in the clinic, an influential bioethics group said today in a statement.

Research on gene editing in embryos is justified, group says

The Hinxton Group, which includes members from eight countries, called for more public discussion and careful policies to govern research using gene editing in embryos, but concluded that the insights such research could provide into early human development and disease was ethically justifiable. Scientists Seek Ban on Method of Editing the Human Genome. Photo A group of leading biologists on Thursday called for a worldwide moratorium on use of a new genome-editing technique that would alter human DNA in a way that can be inherited.

Scientists Seek Ban on Method of Editing the Human Genome

The biologists fear that the new technique is so effective and easy to use that some physicians may push ahead before its safety can be assessed. They also want the public to understand the ethical issues surrounding the technique, which could be used to cure genetic diseases, but also to enhance qualities like beauty or intelligence. The latter is a path that many ethicists believe should never be taken. “You could exert control over human heredity with this technique, and that is why we are raising the issue,” said David Baltimore, a former president of the California Institute of Technology and a member of the group whose paper on the topic was published in the journal Science. Jennifer Doudna (UC Berkeley / HHMI): Genome Engineering with CRISPR-Cas9. Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation (The University of Manchester) Hinxton2015_statement. Ethical and regulatory reflections on CRISPR gene editing revolution.

Top Biologists Call for Moratorium on Use of CRISPR Gene Editing Tool for Clinical Purposes Because of Concerns about Unresolved Ethical Issues. Published: July 29 2015.

Top Biologists Call for Moratorium on Use of CRISPR Gene Editing Tool for Clinical Purposes Because of Concerns about Unresolved Ethical Issues

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.

CRISPR, the disruptor

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.

And engineering a mutation into cells was expensive and laborious work. “It was a student's entire thesis to change one gene,” he says. Top Biologists Call for Moratorium on Use of CRISPR Gene Editing Tool for Clinical Purposes Because of Concerns about Unresolved Ethical Issues.