CMN Weekly (28 May 2021)

Some of the best links we picked up around the internet

By: Gorm Palmgren - May. 28, 2021

Top picks

  • A new deep learning model, CRISPRon, that offers more accurate gRNA on-target efficiency predictions than other existing tools is described today in Nature Communications. The model was trained with a huge dataset obtained from massive, parallel quantification of gRNA editing activity using a lentiviral library.
  • Another software tool for detecting CRISPR on- and off-target genome-editing activity, CRISPECTOR, was presented earlier this week in Nature Communications. CRISPECTOR facilitates the statistical analysis of NGS data from multiplex-PCR comparative experiments to detect and quantify adverse translocation events.

Research

  • Chinese researchers describe a new method for the potential point-of-care detection of DNA methylation in the diagnosis and therapy of cancer. The method is based on dual methylation-sensitive restriction endonucleases coupling with a recombinase polymerase amplification (RPA)-assisted CRISPR/Cas13a system.
  • American researchers have used CRISPR to disrupt the B2t gene in the mosquito, Aedes aegypti, that transmits dengue fever, B2t is specifically expressed in testes and affects male fertility. Females did not produce progeny when mating fertile males after having first mated sterile, mutant males. The researchers expect that the strategy can be employed to reduce diseases spread by Ae. aegypti.

Industry

  • SNIPR BIOME - a leading CRISPR and microbiome biotech company in Copenhagen, Denmark - has received $3.9 million with a further $6.3 million pending in funding from the non-profit partnership CARB-X. The funding will support the development of a CRISPR solution to eradicate harmful E. coli in haematological cancer patients.
  • The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has awarded Hunterian Medicine for its efforts to develop a CRISPR therapy for cystic fibrosis caused by mutations in the CTFR gene. Hunterian's technology will allow for packaging the full-length gene into a single AAV vector.

Reviews

Conferences and courses

  • EMBL (the European Molecular Biology Laboratory) will host a one-week interactive virtual crash course in practical CRISPR. Participants will learn to design CRISPR targets using bioinformatics tools, generate gene knock-outs/knock-ins, and validate targets using the most current technologies. The course begins on 27 September, and the application deadline is 12 July. You can apply for participation already now.

Opinion and People

  • The American evolutionary psychologist Diana Fleischman has published a preprint of a paper entitled "Can 'Eugenics' be Defended?". The paper discusses if it is reasonable to call CRISPR and similar gene-editing techniques 'eugenic' rather than view them from the perspective of ethics and policy in a more philosophical way.
  • The Finnish government has issued a report on utilising CRISPR and other genome-editing techniques in Finland. The report covers the current status, potential threats and possibilities, and future scenarios. It also looks at the legal position of genome editing techniques in the EU and globally.

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