CMN Weekly (30 July 2021)

Some of the best links we picked up around the internet

By: Karen O'Hanlon Cohrt - Jul. 30, 2021

Top picks

  • Researchers in China and the US show that brain-wide Cas9-mediated cleavage of a mutated form of the gene encoding amyloid-beta precursor protein (APP), which is implicated in familial Alzheimer's disease, alleviates amyloid-related pathologies in mice. The findings raise the potential of using CRISPR as a viable treatment strategy for Alzheimer’s and were published in Nature Biomedical Engineering this week.
  • CRISPR breaks ground as a one-shot treatment for a rare disease. This writeup at Popular Science summarises the recent milestones and breakthroughs for CRISPR in vivo therapy and looks at what is coming next for the technology.

Clinical news

Industry

Research

  • This week, researchers in the US reported a universal dimmer switch element that allows precise control of gene editing or gene replacement after exposure to a small molecule. The work revealed that Novartis’ investigational drug branaplam could fine-tune the expression of a virally-delivered erythropoietin gene therapy in mice, which is used to treat a chronic kidney disease. The team, which includes scientists from Novartis, call the switch system Xon and the findings were published in Nature this week.
  • In an article published in Nature this week, a team of scientists report using CRISPR-Cas9-based genetic engineering to create a special class of male mosquitoes carrying gene drives that could exterminate the mosquitoes that carry malaria.
  • A study published in PLOS One yesterday describes a Boeing-sponsored International Space Station (ISS) experiment showing that CRISPR gene editing can be used in space. In the study, CRISPR was applied to yeast cells aboard the ISS to create precise breaks in genomic DNA to examine DNA repair processes.
  • Until recently, CRISPR-Cas was believed to be non-functional in the most widely-used model bacterium E. coli. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University, US and Jeonbuk National University, South Korea have now shown that CRISPR-Cas is active in E.coli and inhibits its nine defective (i.e., cryptic) prophages. Deactivation of CRISPR-Cas resulted in reduced growth, increased death and prevented persister cell resuscitation, highlighting the important role of CRISPR in this species. The findings were shared on the preprint server bioRxiv this week.
  • A team of scientists has reported construction of a hypoxia-responsive gold nanorods (AuNRs)-based nanocomposite of CRISPR-Cas9 for mild-photothermal therapy via tumour-targeted gene editing. In the study, the researchers succeeded in selectively knocking out Hsp90α in the tumour microenvironment, leading to reduced thermal-resistance of cancer cells upon exposure to mild photothermal therapy. The findings were recently published in Angewandte Chemie.

Reviews

Conferences

  • CRISPR and Beyond: Perturbations at Scale to Understand Genomes. A virtual conference organised by Wellcome Connecting Science. Dates: 1st-3rd September 2021. Read more about it here.
  • CRISPR 2.0 Summit. A virtual conference running between November 16th-18th, 2021. Registration is now open with an early-bird discount. Read more about it here.

Huh, heh, wow

  • The documentary Human Nature, which spotlights the CRISPR revelation in genetic modification research, has received 3 Emmy nominations for Outstanding Science and Technology, Outstanding Editing of a Documentary, and Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Direction of a Documentary.

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