Genome Engineering in the News
Movement of Certain Genetically Engineered Organisms
We are proposing to revise our regulations regarding the movement (importation, interstate movement, and environmental release) of certain genetically engineered organisms in response to advances in genetic engineering and our understanding of the plant pest risk posed by them, thereby reducing regulatory burden for developers of organisms that are unlikely to pose plant pest risks. This proposed rule, which would mark the first comprehensive revision of the regulations since they were established in 1987, would provide a clear, predictable, and efficient regulatory pathway for innovators, facilitating the development of new and novel genetically engineered organisms that are unlikely to pose plant pest risks.
Programming the Code of Life—Stephen Ekker, The Genome Writers Guild
Not long ago, the idea of being able to edit DNA with the same precision as we edit a Word document or computer code was merely science fiction, but today it’s reality, and it’s having an impact on the world around us. Technology that’s been in the making for the past three decades is now being implemented into everyday life, and holds the potential to completely transform the way we live our lives. Dr. Stephen Ekker is Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Director of the Office of Entrepreneurship, and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the Mayo Clinic. He’s also a member of the Genome Writers Guild, a genome engineering society which promotes understanding, education, and awareness surrounding the value and implications of gene editing and genome engineering. He joins the podcast today to discuss the way in which this technology has already impacted the world, current research being done in the area of immunotherapy for cancer, how this technology could contribute to the development of truly customized therapies, and what to anticipate in the coming years. Learn more by tuning in and visiting genomewritersguild.org.
There’s a Fungus Among Us
June 26, 2019
Emerson Fuller, Microbiology scholar, classical literature lover, plant-mom, and aspiring science communicator
House Committee Votes To Continue Ban On Genetically Modified Babies
June 4, 2019
A congressional committee voted Tuesday to continue a federal ban on creating genetically modified babies in the United States.
First Successful CRISPR/Cas9 Gene Editing on International Space Station
May 23, 2019
For the first time, astronauts have used CRISPR/Cas9 technology to edit DNA in space.
Australian gene-editing rules adopt ‘middle ground’
April 23, 2019
Updated regulations allow scientists to use some genome-editing techniques in plants and animals without government approval.
First U.S. Patients Treated With CRISPR As Human Gene-Editing Trials Get Underway
April 16, 2019
The powerful gene-editing technique called CRISPR has been in the news a lot. And not all the news has been good: A Chinese scientist stunned the world last year when he announced he had used CRISPR to create genetically modified babies.
Four new DNA letters double life’s alphabet
February 21, 2019
Scientists have doubled this number of life’s building blocks, creating for the first time a synthetic, eight-letter genetic language that seems to store and transcribe information just like natural DNA.
New U.S. Experiments Aim To Create Gene-Edited Human Embryos
February 1, 2019
A scientist in New York is conducting experiments designed to modify DNA in human embryos as a step toward someday preventing inherited diseases, NPR has learned.
Perspectives on gene editing
January 9, 2019
Medicine is at a turning point, on the cusp of major change as disruptive technologies such as gene, RNA, and cell therapies enable scientists to approach diseases in new ways. The swiftness of this change is being driven by innovations such as CRISPR gene editing, which makes it possible to correct errors in DNA with relative ease.
11.26.18 The reports coming from China regarding the birth of human twins following gene editing experimentation have naturally concerned many scientists and public alike. Incomplete information regarding the experimental approach, validity of results, institutional oversight, and ethics statement preclude a full understanding of these developments at this time. However, if these reports are found credible, many are left wondering what impact these developments could have on science, medicine, and humanity. The Genome Writers Guild is a growing organization made up of researchers, physicians, students, entrepreneurs, investors, government representatives, futurists, artists and public members that seeks to engage the broader public in such discussions, with the goal of helping people both understand the science and applications of genetic engineering and develop informed opinions on these important topics.
01.18.18: Maciej Maselko and Michael Smanski, synthetic biologists at the University of Minnesota, have genetically modified yeasts so they cannot breed with their wild type. The Nature article, "Synthetic species made to shun sex with wild organisms", describes how Maselko and Smanski used CRISPR to alter gene expression guiding the "Cas9 enzyme to overactive genes so that their protein products grew to toxic levels". The technology could keep GMOs from spreading genes to unmodified crops and control invasive species. Hear more about Dr. Maselko's recent work when he presents at the GWG 2018 Conference.
01.12.18: Gene Therapy comes of age. Fifty years ago scientists imagined that modifying DNA could be an effective treatment for human disease. Finally, after "building on decades of scientific, clinical and manufacturing advances, gene therapies have begun to improve the lives of patients." The quote is from a review article in the Science titled "Gene therapy: The power of persistence" that summarizes the history, recent advances and outlook for future developments. Shown in the graphic are some of the ediitng tools: Adeno-associated viral vector, lentiviral vector and Sleeping Beauty Transposon System.
12.28.17: Pinpoint gene editing. Pioneered by David Liu, chemical biologist and GWG member, pinpoint editing corrects point mutations in the base pairs in DNA and RNA. Dr. Liu modified CRISPR to unzip rather than cut and then chemically change one base pair. Liu's base pair editing work was featured in “Gene Corrector", an article in Nature's ten people who mattered this year.
12.20.17: Golden Rice Approved. The regulatory group for Food Standards in Australia and New Zealand has approved golden rice for human consumption. Golden rice is derived from the rice line GR2E, genetically modified to produce provitamin A carotenoids, and especially beta-carotene, in the grain. By natively encoding the proteins necessary to provide critical nutrients, golden rice holds the promise to end forms of blindness caused by a restricted diet. Read the announcement in the FSANZ government document (PDF).
11.25.17: Scott McIvor and Gene Therapy. Gene therapy research at the University of Minnesota Medical Center has led to a first attempt to cure a killer disease by editing the DNA inside a patient. The therapy was performed in San Francisco but was developed by GWG member, Dr. Scott McIvor and colleague Dr. Chet Whitley, genetic disease and gene therapy specialists at the U of M. The next attempts will be performed in Minneapolis to test the effective and safe delivery of the gene editing method. “Things are moving forward so fast,” said Scott McIvor, I never would have dreamed you can do what you can do right now.” Read more about McIvor's key research in the gene editing trial in an article in the Minneapolis StarTribune.