CRISPR revolutionized gene editing. Now its toolbox is expanding… human genone editing (again, potentially one of the most powerful technologies humans can play with… LIKE GODS!)

“If you don’t think this technology… human genome editing technology, is already being covertly tested and deployed by the military complex, most likely private (the U.S as well as China, other countries)… either as a weapon or create a weapon… you are extremely naïve.

I tell anyone who wants to listen exactly what happened to me in the Steppes of Kazakhstan.

What will happen is, maybe by the end of this century, a little longer… you will have an elite group of ‘human beings’ that can afford to live into the hundred of years, immune to almost all disease, IQ’s in the hundreds… and they’ll breed amongst themselves (obviously)… … and the rest of you fucking idiots will actually be a slave sub-species (which pretty much what they are now, but only in principle).

They’ll have designer super babies, eat designer super food… … fuck they’ll even have designer super cats and dogs!
And YOU will not be able to stop them or ever overthrow them because… they’ll have designer super solders to protect them! :D|
(and your children will be spelling super with a fucking ‘a’)


“Does everything have to be South Park!”
“It would seem that way yeah… … I AM GOFER BOY! PONDERING REALITY!”


CRISPR revolutionized gene editing. Now its toolbox is expanding

The gene-editing tool that has revolutionized biology is becoming even more powerful.

CRISPR, as the system is known, allows scientists to target and snip a specific sequence of letters on a strand of DNA with unprecedented precision. That has opened up new possibilities for treating genetic diseases, helping plants adapt to global warming and even preventing mosquitoes from spreading malaria.
CRISPR is made up of two basic components. The first is a piece of RNA that locates a predetermined sequence of DNA in an organism’s genome that scientists want to alter. The second is a type of protein called an enzyme that attaches itself to the target section of DNA and splices it.
Cas9 has been the workhorse enzyme because it executes a neat, blunt cut. But in the last few years, scientists have started to search for—and find—alternative CRISPR systems that cut with enzymes other than Cas9.
“Cas9 is a powerful tool, but it has limitations,” said CRISPR pioneer Feng Zhang, a bioengineer at MIT and the Broad Institute. “Each of these proteins has shortcomings and strengths, and together they help us create a much more versatile box of tools.”
Some of the new Cas enzymes cut DNA in different ways that make certain edits more likely to work. Other enzymes are smaller, allowing scientists to more easily insert them into cells.
“The diversity of CRISPR proteins is exceptionally broad,” said Benjamin Oakes, an entrepreneurial fellow at the Innovative Genomics Institute, a joint project of the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, San Francisco. “They have been evolving over millennia and nature has developed hundreds, if not thousands, that can work.”
In nature, bacteria use this technology as a defense mechanism to find and destroy attacking viruses.
Bacteria store sequences of viral DNA within their own DNA, bookended by a repeating sequence of letters. Hence the system’s name CRISPR, which stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. (The first CRISPR systems discovered were indeed partly palindromic, however scientists later found that that this is not universally true.)

CRISPR-Cas9 has already proved to be an exceedingly useful tool for a wide variety of genetic tinkering, including turning genes on and off, disabling them entirely, introducing new DNA into a genome, and deleting DNA you don’t want.
But scientists wondered what other CRISPR enzymes might bring to the genetic editing table.
CRISPR-Cas12a was the first system after CRISPR-Cas9 to be used for gene editing in the lab. A recent study on Cas12a’s cousin Cas12b demonstrated that this variant could edit the human genome as well, giving scientists yet another tool to tackle genetic diseases.
Other work has shed light on a suite of additional promising CRISPR enzymes, including Cas13, Cas14 and CasY. The latest candidate, CasX, was described in detail Monday in a study by Oakes and others in the journal Nature.
Comparing CRISPR systems is a bit like comparing fruits, Zhang said. If Cas9 enzymes are apples, then Cas12 enzymes might be plums—still edible and delicious, but also totally different.
And like fruit, these different systems have variations within them. Just like there are subspecies of plums, there is also a wide variety of Cas12 enzymes.
These differences play out in several ways. For example, unlike CRISPR-Cas9, which cuts both strands of DNA in the same spot, CRISPR-Cas12a and the CRISPR-CasX make what is called a staggered cut, so that the two strands are severed in different places.
There is evidence that a staggered cut makes it more likely that a cell will accept a new piece of DNA at the site of the splice, said Thomas Clements, a geneticist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. So if the goal is to add DNA to a cell, a system that uses Cas12a, and perhaps one day CasX, might be a better choice than Cas9, he said.
The sizes of the different CRISPR proteins also vary. Within the Cas9 family, there are enzymes made up of 1,350 nucleotides (the basic structural unit of DNA) and others that contain only 1,000 nucleotides. CasX and Cas12a are smaller still.
Size is an important criterion because smaller molecules are easier to get into cells than larger ones, said Eugene Koonin, who studies evolutionary genomics at the National Institutes of Health.
“In a sense, there is a race to come up with the smallest efficient genome editor so you can combine it with other things that you can pack into a viral vehicle” for delivery inside a cell, he said. “Size is critical.”
The hunt for Cas9 alternatives has scientists scouring the planet.
Jillian Banfield, a geomicrobiologist at UC Berkeley, found CasX and CasY embedded in the DNA of bacteria that inhabit underground aquifers.
One of the earliest known forms of Cas12b was discovered in the clean room where NASA’s Viking spacecraft was assembled.
Banfield said scientists are also sampling organisms that inhabit lakes, rivers and marine environments, as well as sites hundreds of feet below the Earth’s surface, to see what inventive gene editors bacteria there might be harboring.
“We are exploring the full diversity of Earth’s habitable environments so that we can sample organisms across the tree of life,” she said.
There are already thousands of known Cas9 variants and even more Cas12 variants that still need to be studied and characterized. There are also researchers who are tinkering with the known CRISPR systems to make them more effective.
“There is a lot of opportunity to explore how we might be able to augment the CRISPR toolbox,” Feng said. “The more options people have, the more likely it is that we can treat as many diseases as possible.”

Beyond ‘superbabies’: how Crispr is revolutionising medicine

Genome-editing offers new tools for diagnostics, drug discovery and treating disease


The tail-end of last year brought news that a Chinese scientist had apparently created the world’s first genome-edited babies. It left fellow scientists, and the rest of the world, horrified that such a momentous leap had occurred in secret, with its potential for unintended consequences.
Dr He Jiankui, the clinician behind the breakthrough, is now understood to be under investigation and under guard in China. Little is known about the twin girls, Lulu and Nana, whose genomes he manipulated.
This is the public face of genome editing or, as it is sometimes called, gene editing: a technology capable of creating “superbabies” with optimised DNA, free from disease and tweaked for perfection.
But these are not the applications causing the most excitement in the lab. Instead, the precision offered by tools such as Crispr-Cas9 is revolutionising diagnostics, drug discovery and the treatment of single-gene diseases.
Crispr-Cas9, often shortened to Crispr, is the best-known gene-editing technology. It is a chunk of bacterial genetic code that behaves like a sat-nav, homing in on a specific location in a genome; Cas9 is a cutting enzyme that works like molecular scissors, snipping out portions of DNA. Cellular repair mechanisms then kick in, which can disable, mutate or fix the gene.
“The targets we’re finding with Crispr-Cas9 are going to guide the drugs coming out in the 2020s,” Jon Moore, chief technology officer for Horizon Discovery, a UK biotech company, told Nature.
The technology is simple to use and highly precise. By pairing Crispr-Cas9 with a guide molecule, scientists can edit one spot in the genome with a low chance of unintentional changes elsewhere. There are thought to be around 10,000 disorders resulting from a single mutation, such as cystic fibrosis. “Many scientists consider genome editing to have great potential for dealing with inherited genetic disorders,” says Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, a developmental biologist and geneticist at the Francis Crick Institute in London.

Genome editing is also proving useful for “knockout screening”, a popular approach in R&D. By snipping out a gene and seeing what functions are affected or which disorders appear, drug targets can be identified. It is also a clever way of facing down drug resistance: researchers can knock genes out of cells, flood the cells with drugs, and then see whether those cells become more sensitive to treatment. By targeting the proteins made by genes involved with resistance, chemotherapy can be made more effective for conditions such as pancreatic cancer.

Clues can be gleaned about the direction of R&D by seeing where founders in the field have placed their bets. Several scientists are popularly credited with developing Crispr from 2012 onwards and all have started companies to commercialise various applications. The flurry of activity has also triggered a fierce battle over patents.
Biologists Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier are the doyennes of Crispr: their landmark paper in 2012 showed that the bacterial immune system could be repurposed for genome-editing. They have both picked up prestigious medals and honours, including the $3m Breakthrough Prize, an international award for scientific advances from a coterie of Silicon Valley billionaires, including Mark Zuckerberg.

Last year Professor Doudna, from the University of California, Berkeley, founded Mammoth Biosciences with a focus on diagnostics. This approach uses Crispr as a detector for cheap, simple and speedy diagnostics for disease outbreaks or for use in hospitals.
Professor Charpentier, now a director at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, co-founded a different company, Crispr Therapeutics, to focus on treatments for single-gene disorders. Together with Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Crispr Therapeutics earned the green light for trials of a gene therapy codenamed CTX001, which targets sickle cell disease and beta-thalassaemia, serious inherited blood disorders.
The therapy involves taking the patient’s own stem cells, editing them outside the body to produce high levels of foetal haemoglobin, then reintroducing the engineered cells back into the body. The idea, in the case of beta-thalassaemia, is to cut the need for expensive blood transfusions. Inherited eye diseases are also thought to offer good prospects. Editas Medicine, co-founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Feng Zhang, another pivotal figure in Crispr development, is focusing on LCA10, a disease produced by an inherited mutation that causes severe vision loss or blindness at birth.

In November, Editas won approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to begin enrolling for trials of LCA10 patients, where the gene-editing is done inside the body rather than in cells that have been extracted first, treated and then returned. The pressing question is whether in-vivo (in body) editing will have unintended genetic consequences. However, if successful, it should be cheaper than ex-vivo (out of body) preparations, which require treatments to be tailored separately for each patient. All the therapies being investigated involve editing somatic (non-reproductive) cells. This means that, unlike in the case of Lulu and Nana, alterations will not cascade into future generations.

This brings us to the big unknown in genome-editing: China. The country is keen to lead — there are reportedly several clinical trials, many with cancer patients, under way already — but it risks becoming an international pariah for lax monitoring. Some trial organisers have already admitted losing track of participants, which means long-term side effects will not be catalogued. There are also reports of patient deaths, although these may be due to aggressive tumours.

Professor Lovell-Badge hopes that last year’s bombshell will focus minds without jeopardising a hugely promising technology: “There’s a lot of good work in China but the country needs to ensure that regulatory systems and oversight are robust enough to prevent misuse. What we don’t want is a knee-jerk reaction from regulators to ban genome editing. A ban won’t stop characters like He Jainkui, who knowingly broke guidelines, but it also won’t help progress.”

Tiny New CRISPR Protein Could Make Human Gene-Hacking Less Risky

Step aside, CRISPR-Cas9.

Step Aside
When people talk about the gene-editing tool CRISPR, they usually mean CRISPR-Cas9. But Cas9 is just one of several CRISPR-associated proteins. A few others are Cas12a, CasY, and CasX.
These proteins act as the “scissors” in the CRISPR system, which acts as a natural defense against viruses for some bacteria, similarly to the immune system in humans. The proteins cut DNA at just the right place, and each one has advantages and disadvantages in the nascent field of gene-hacking.
Now, researchers from UC Berkeley have discovered that CasX is capable of editing human cells, and it doesn’t carry with it some of the issues involved in Cas9 editing — potentially putting us one step closer to safely gene-editing humans.
Perfect Picture
The Berkeley team details its research on CasX in a study published on Tuesday in the journal Nature.

They started by used a cryo-electron microscope to take hundreds of thousands of images of CasX while it edited genes. Using those snapshots, they built an atom-by-atom blueprint of the protein.
Based on this image, they were able to determine that CasX is roughly 40 percent smaller than Cas9 and evolved independently of the latter protein — CasX and Cas9 don’t share a common ancestor.
Double Feature
This research uncovered two reasons CasX could be better for human gene-editing than Cas9.
First is the protein’s small size. This is important because scientists often use a virus called AAV to deliver their CRISPR system. This virus can only carry so much, so using a smaller Cas protein will leave more room for the instructions and other microscopic machinery the system needs to successfully edit a genome.

Second, researchers discovered CasX in a bacteria not found in the human body. Many Cas9 proteins, on the other hand, come from bacteria that are commonly found in humans. That means a person could have encountered the Cas9 protein at some point in their lives prior to undergoing Cas9 gene-editing — and researchers really have no idea what impact that could have on the process.
Because CasX shares no common ancestors with Cas9, researchers don’t have to worry about a person’s immune system remembering the protein — eliminating one possible issue blocking the path to human gene-editing.
“The immunogenicity, delivery, and specificity of a genome-editing tool are all vitally important,” researcher Benjamin Oakes said in the news release. “We’re excited about CasX on all of these fronts.”

Scientists Uncover New, Smaller CRISPR Gene Editor

Scientists determined the unique structure of CasX (grey), revealing the pint-sized Cas enzyme is dominated by RNA (red) that directs it to specific sequences of DNA (blue), where it binds and cuts the DNA (via Innovative Genomics Institute/UC Berkeley)

Move over, Cas9: There’s a new gene editor in town.
CasX, discovered two years ago by UC Berkeley scientists Jill Banfield and Jennifer Doudna, is a potent and efficient reviser of bacteria and human cells.

Like other Cas proteins, the rookie can cut double-stranded DNA, bind to DNA to regulate genes, and be targeted to specific DNA sequences.

But it has one important advantage: Since CasX comes from bacteria not found in humans, our immune system should accept it more easily than Cas9—which some doctors fear may create a reaction in patients treated with CRISPR therapies.
“The immunogenicity, delivery, and specificity of a genome-editing tool are all vitally important,” co-lead author Benjamin Oakes, an Entrepreneurial Fellow at the Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI), said in a statement. “We’re excited about CasX on all these fronts.”

At first glance, CasX appears to act like predecessors Cas9 and Cas12. A study published by the journal Nature, however, debunks that theory; the protein’s unique molecular makeup and shape suggests it evolved independently of Cas9, sharing no common ancestor.
“The first thing that jumps out is how the highly unique domains accomplish similar roles to what we have seen with other RNA-guided DNA-binding proteins,” Oakes said. “CasX’s minimal size, with no fat on the bone, helps to clearly demonstrate there is a basic recipe that nature uses.
“Understanding this recipe will help us to better evolve and engineer genome editing tools for our purposes rather than nature’s,” he added.

Which is exactly what Oakes’ team is working on.
“We aren’t just looking to uncover the next pair of molecular scissors,” according to Doudna, executive director of IGI, an academic partnership between UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco. “We want to build the next Swiss Army knife.”

CRISPR isn’t just for editing human embryos, it also works for plants and bugs: 5 essential reads

If you’ve been stunned by all the alarming reports of gene-edited babies, you might have the impression that the only purpose of CRISPR, the genetic technology that enables biologists to edit DNA, is meddling with the human genome. You may be relieved to learn, as I know I was, that engineering human traits isn’t so simple. Cecile Janssens of Emory University explains that the most desirable traits are the product of dozens or hundreds of genes interacting with the environment. Such traits can’t be designed by fiddling with a gene or two.
Over the last year of covering CRISPR applications, I’ve come to recognize that a better reflection of the gene-editing technology’s promise is visible in the labs of scientists creating new varieties of plants.
CRISPR and crops
Given all the controversy associated with genetically modified crops, you might be wondering whether CRISPR is any different. Plant geneticist Yi Li from the University of Connecticut argued that CRISPR’s precision makes it different from GMOs because no foreign genes from other species are added to the plant. Li used CRISPR to engineer citrus trees that are resistant to the greening disease Huanglongbing, which has devastated citrus crops in Florida and other parts of the world.
CRISPR and organic farming
Plant pathologist Rebecca Mackelprang of the University of California, Berkeley suggests that some forms of CRISPR editing mimic naturally occurring genetic mutations that arise spontaneously in nature, which means this biotechnology can actually help meet the goals of organic farming. Furthermore she explains how CRISPR is a way for academic researchers to enter the world dominated by Big Ag.
CRISPR and taming wild plants
CRISPR may also be a vital tool as the changing climate makes it difficult to grow crops. Nathan Reem and Esperanza Shenstone of Cornell University explain how wild plants with crop potential can be rapidly domesticated using gene editing. They worked on the groundcherry and showed how the plant could be made to grow more compactly and produce larger fruit. Similar modifications could help struggling crops adapt to warmer conditions. To do the same thing using traditional plant breeding techniques, by comparison, could take hundreds of years.
CRISPR and public health
When it comes to public health, there are many useful applications that have nothing to do with editing the DNA of human embryos. Jay Shendure’s team at the University of Washington used CRISPR as a tool to figure out which mutations in the breast cancer genes 1 and 2 – BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 – were harmless and which ones were likely to dramatically raise the risk of breast or ovarian cancer.
CRISPR and malaria
A more controversial application of CRISPR is engineering a gene drive – a genetic mechanism that helps a trait spread through a population faster than it would naturally. Andrea Crisanti and Kyros Kyrou show how a gene drive can successfully crash a population of mosquitoes in their laboratory. The intended application: wiping out mosquitoes that spread malaria. It’s a radical and irreversible approach – which is why it is still years away from use in the field. But it offers a peek into genetic approaches to controlling this and other mosquito-borne diseases.




Monsanto Announces Global Genome-Editing Licensing Agreement With Broad Institute For Newly-Characterized CRISPR System

Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) announced today that it has reached a new
global licensing agreement with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
for the use of the novel CRISPR-Cpf1 genome-editing technology in
agriculture. The CRISPR-Cpf1 system represents an exciting advance in
genome-editing technology, because it has potential to be a simpler and
more precise tool for making targeted improvements in a cell’s DNA when
compared to the CRISPR-Cas9 system.
Researchers believe that the CRISPR-Cpf1 system may offer an expanded
set of benefits for advancing and delivering improved agricultural
products than the CRISPR-Cas9 system. Some of these benefits include
greater flexibility in the method used to edit and in the locations
where edits may occur. In addition, the smaller size of the CRISPR-Cpf1
system provides researchers with more flexibility to use the
genome-editing technology across multiple crops.
“The CRISPR-Cpf1 system is a powerful new discovery within the field of
genome editing, and we’re excited to license the system and add it to
our growing portfolio of genome-editing tools,” said Tom Adams, Ph.D.,
biotechnology lead for Monsanto. “This system offers a technical
step-change by presenting new ways to improve crops for farmers and
society alike, offering researchers greater flexibility and new
capabilities using this emerging technology to improve agriculture.”
“The CRISPR-Cpf1 system represents a transformative application of
genome editing for the research community,” said Issi Rozen, chief
business officer of the Broad Institute. “This system can directly
benefit advanced research in human health and global agriculture. We are
proud to partner with stakeholders throughout the biomedical and
agriculture community to help deliver responsible solutions for our
Monsanto believes that genome-editing technologies – including the
CRISPR-Cpf1 system – will continue to provide a powerful tool for its
research in plant breeding and biotechnology, with the promise to unlock
the full potential of its world-leading germplasm and genome libraries
and contribute to the development of exciting new products. The company
is exploring genome editing in a phased approach across single-gene
knock-outs, single-gene edits and multiple-gene edits. Over the last
year, Monsanto has licensed multiple genome-editing technologies –
including a separate license from the Broad Institute for use of the
CRISPR-Cas9 system in agriculture – to develop a leading portfolio of
tools in this field. The intellectual property around the CRISPR-Cpf1
system is independent from the CRISPR-Cas patent estate, and this
CRISPR-Cpf1 license provides Monsanto with another valuable tool for
genome editing in this rapidly advancing field of science.
Under the agreement announced today, the Broad Institute grants Monsanto
a worldwide non-exclusive license for agricultural applications of the
CRISPR-Cpf1 system. Additional terms of the agreement were not
disclosed. For more information on the Broad Institute, visit http://www.broadinstitute.org.



CRISPR strawberries? Monsanto-backed gene-editing venture developing sweeter fruit

In a move aimed at securing a place in the rapidly-evolving food technology scene, agricultural giant Monsanto has invested $125 million in a fresh gene-editing startup called Pairwise.
The alliance could tee-up Monsanto, long known for its controversial dealings with farmers and its role in popularizing GMOs, to introduce some of the first produce made using the blockbuster gene-editing tool CRISPR. Sweeter strawberries with a longer shelf-life could be among the earliest offerings.
The tool allows scientists to accurately target specific problem areas within the genome of a living thing, opening up the potential to tweak the DNA of everything from row crops like corn and soy to produce like apples and asparagus in order to make the produce taste sweeter, last longer on the shelf, and even tolerate drought or flooding.
Monsanto and Pairwise aim to get some of the first fruits and vegetables made with CRISPR on grocery store shelves within the next five to 10 years, Tom Adams, who previously served as Monsanto’s vice president of global biotechnology but will leave the company to become the CEO of Pairwise, told Business Insider….
If successful, the move could help the company skirt the misinformation that has plagued previous gene editing tools like GMOs.
Read full, original post: A new Monsanto-backed company is on the verge of producing the first fruit made with a blockbuster gene-editing tool that could revolutionize agriculture



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