Don’t drop your diet yet, but scientists have discovered how CRISPR can burn fat

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A personalized therapy for metabolic conditions that are linked to obesity could involve removing a small amount of a person’s fat, transforming it into an energy-burning variation using CRISPR gene-editing, and then re-implanting it into the body, according to researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

In tests involving mice, the implanted human fat cells helped lower sugar concentrations in the blood and decrease fat in the liver. When the mice were put on a high-fat diet, the ones that had been implanted with the human beige fat only gained half as much weight as those that had been implanted with regular human fat.

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CRISPR therapy restores retinal and visual function in mice

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A breakthrough study, led by researchers from the University of California, Irvine, results in the restoration of retinal and visual functions of mice models suffering from inherited retinal disease.

Published today in Nature Biomedical Engineering, the paper, titled, “Restoration of visual function in adult mice with an inherited retinal disease via adenine base editing,” illustrates the use of a new generation CRISPR technology and lays the foundation for the development of a new therapeutic modality for a wide range of inherited ocular diseases caused by different gene mutations.

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Coronavirus: test that can detect pathogen in 5 minutes developed by Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna

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The research team was led by University of California, Berkeley’s Dr Jennifer
Doudna, a joint winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize for chemistry. Photo: Reuters

California-based researchers develop a test that can detect the coronavirus using gene-editing technology and a modified mobile phone camera.

Mobile phones were used for ‘their robustness and cost-effectiveness, and the fact that they are widely available’, say the researchers.

A team of California-based researchers have developed a test that can detect the coronavirus in five minutes using gene-editing technology and a modified mobile phone camera, a discovery that could solve the issue of under-testing in epidemic-stricken countries.

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How CRISPR is tackling the troubling immune response that’s plagued gene therapy until now

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One of the major challenges facing gene therapy — a way to treat disease by replacing a patient’s defective genes with healthy ones — is that it is difficult to safely deliver therapeutic genes to patients without the immune system destroying the gene, and the vehicle carrying it, which can trigger life-threatening widespread inflammation.

Three decades ago researchers thought that gene therapy would be the ultimate treatment for genetically inherited diseases like hemophilia, sickle cell anemia, and genetic diseases of metabolism. But the technology couldn’t dodge the immune response.

Since then, researchers have been looking for ways to perfect the technology and control immune responses to the gene or the vehicle. However, many of the strategies tested so far have not been completely successful in overcoming this hurdle.

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Body fat transformed by CRISPR gene editing helps mice keep weight off

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A 3D illustration of brown fat cells, which both burn and store energy

 White fat cells can be turned into energy-burning brown fat using CRISPR gene-editing technology. These engineered cells have helped mice avoid weight gain and diabetes when on a high-fat diet, and could eventually be used to treat obesity-related disorders, say the researchers behind the work.

Human adults have plenty of white fat, the cells filled with lipid that make up fatty deposits. But we have much smaller reserves of brown fat cells, which burn energy as well as storing it. People typically lose brown fat as they age or put on weight. While brown fat seems to be stimulated when we are exposed to cold temperatures, there are no established methods of building up brown fat in the body.

Yu-Hua Tseng at Harvard University and her colleagues have developed a workaround. The researchers have used the CRISPR gene-editing tool to give human white fat cells the properties of brown fat.

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A new CRISPR technique could fix almost all genetic diseases possible

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A new method, called “prime editing,” could, in principle, correct around
89 percent of the mutations that cause inherited human disease.

A less error-prone DNA editing method could correct many more harmful mutations than was previously possible.

Andrew Anzalone was restless. It was late fall of 2017. The year was winding down, and so was his MD/PhD program at Columbia. Trying to figure out what was next in his life, he’d taken to long walks in the leaf-strewn West Village. One night as he paced up Hudson Street, his stomach filled with La Colombe coffee and his mind with Crispr gene editing papers, an idea began to bubble through the caffeine brume inside his brain.

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CRISPR enzyme programmed to kill viruses in human cells

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Researchers harness Cas13 as an antiviral and diagnostic for RNA-based viruses

Researchers have now turned a CRISPR RNA-cutting enzyme into an antiviral that can be programmed to detect and destroy RNA-based viruses in human cells.

Many of the world’s most common or deadly human pathogens are RNA-based viruses — Ebola, Zika and flu, for example — and most have no FDA-approved treatments. A team led by researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has now turned a CRISPR RNA-cutting enzyme into an antiviral that can be programmed to detect and destroy RNA-based viruses in human cells.

Researchers have previously adapted the Cas13 enzyme as a tool to cut and edit human RNA and as a diagnostic to detect the presence of viruses, bacteria, or other targets. This study is one of the first to harness Cas13, or any CRISPR system, as an antiviral in cultured human cells.

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Hacking Humans : Search & replace gene editing is here

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The introduction of CRISPR changed the world of genetic engineering by allowing researchers to “cut and paste” DNA. But the process can introduce errors that produce unpredictable results. A recently published report in the journal Nature by David Liu, a Harvard university biologist, describes a new process that is more like a “search and replace” function than a “cut and paste” function because the DNA strand is not severed during the process.

The scientists claim that “prime editing” is “capable of repairing nearly any of the 75,000 known mutations that cause inherited disease in humans.” Liu told journalists in a conference call arranged by Nature. “If CRISPR is like scissors, base editors are like a pencil. Then you can think of prime editors like a word processor, capable of precise search and replace … All will have roles.”

Genetic editing is progressing on an exponential curve. So we are exponentially closer to designer organisms of all kinds. Humans, the food supply (animals and plants), pesticides, weapons (specifically bioterrorism) and any other good or evil stuff you can think of.

The funny thing about exponential progress is that we don’t really feel it in our day-to-day lives. Think of the speed with which hollywood-style multi-million dollar computer generated movie-making tools became apps (FaceApp, Zao, etc). Now apply that speed to genetic engineering. That’s what’s coming soon to a lab near you. Stay tuned.

Via ShellyPalmer.com

 

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Gene editing transforms gel into shape-shifting material

 

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The CRISPR technique can trigger the new material to release drugs or pick up biological signals

Is there anything CRISPR can’t do? Scientists have wielded the gene-editing tool to make scores of genetically modified organisms, as well as to track animal development, detect diseases and control pests. Now, they have found yet another application for it: using CRISPR to create smart materials that change their form on command.

The shape-shifting materials could be used to deliver drugs, and to create sentinels for almost any biological signal, researchers report in Science on 22 August1. The study was led by James Collins, a bioengineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

Collins’ team worked with water-filled polymers that are held together by strands of DNA, known as DNA hydrogels. To alter the properties of these materials, Collins and his team turned to a form of CRISPR that uses a DNA-snipping enzyme called Cas12a. (The gene-editor CRISPR–Cas9 uses the Cas9 enzyme to snip a DNA sequence at the desired point.) The Cas12a enzyme can be programmed to recognize a specific DNA sequence. The enzyme cuts its target DNA strand, then severs single strands of DNA nearby.

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Gene-edited cattle have a major screwup in their DNA

 

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Bid for barnyard revolution is set back after regulators find celebrity “hornless” bovines contaminated by bacterial genes.

They were the poster animals for the gene-editing revolution, appearing in story after story. By adding just a few letters of DNA to the genomes of dairy cattle, a US startup company had devised a way to make sure the animals never grew troublesome horns.

To Recombinetics—the St. Paul, Minnesota gene-editing company that made the hornless cattle—the animals were messengers of a new era of better, faster, molecular farming. “This same outcome could be achieved by breeding in the farmyard,” declared the company’s then-CEO Tammy Lee Stanoch in 2017. “This is precision breeding.”

Except it wasn’t.

Food and Drug Administration scientists who had a closer look at the genome sequence of one of the edited animals, a bull named Buri, have discovered its genome contains a stretch of bacterial DNA including a gene conferring antibiotic resistance.

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In a 1st, doctors in U.S. use CRISPR tool to treat patient with genetic disorder

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Victoria Gray, 34, of Forest, Miss., 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.

For the first time, doctors in the U.S. have used the powerful gene-editing technique CRISPR to try to treat a patient with a genetic disorder.

“It is just amazing how far things have come,” says Victoria Gray, 34, of Forest, Miss. “It is wonderful,” she told NPR in an exclusive interview after undergoing the landmark treatment for sickle cell disease.

Gray is the first patient ever to be publicly identified as being involved in a study testing the use of CRISPR for a genetic disease.

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Wait, What? The first human-monkey hybrid embryo was just created in China

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Last week, news broke that a prominent stem cell researcher is making human-monkey chimeras in a secretive lab in China.

The story, first reported by the Spanish newspaper El País, has all the ingredients of a bombshell. First, its protagonist is the highly-respected Dr. Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte, a Spanish-born stem cell biologist at the Salk Institute in California known for his breakthroughs in anti-aging research. His other fascination? Human-animal chimeras, in which animal embryos are injected with human cells and further developed inside a surrogate animal’s body. Second, according to El País, Izpisúa Belmonte may have collaborated with monkey researchers in China to circumvent legal issues in the US and Spain, where research with primates is heavily regulated.

The news did not sit well with Chinese scientists, who are still recovering from the CRISPR baby scandal. “It makes you wonder, if their reason for choosing to do this in a Chinese laboratory is because of our high-tech experimental setups, or because of loopholes in our laws?” lamented one anonymous commentator on China’s popular social media app, WeChat.

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