The CRISPR Journal announces the publication of its June 2019 issue. The Journal is dedicated to validating and publishing outstanding research and commentary on all aspects of CRISPR and gene editing, including CRISPR biology, technology, and genome editing, and commentary and debate of key policy, regulatory, and ethical issues affecting the field. The Journal, led by Editor-in-Chief Rodolphe Barrangou, PhD (North Carolina State University) and Executive Editor Dr. Kevin Davies, is published bimonthly in print and online. Visit The CRISPR Journal website for more information.
This press release is copyright Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Its use is granted only for journalists and news media receiving it directly from The CRISPR Journal. For full-text copies of articles or to arrange interviews with Dr. Barrangou, Dr. Davies, authors, or members of the editorial board, contact Kathryn Ryan at the Publisher.
1. SHERLOCK might solve rapid, portable detection of plant genes using CRISPR-Cas13
Applications of nucleic acid detection systems in agriculture enable trait screening during breeding, pest surveillance, and pathogen identification. Writing in The CRISPR Journal, researchers from Feng Zhang’s laboratory at the Broad Institute and co-founders of Sherlock Biosciences, have repurposed their recently described SHERLOCK CRISPR-Cas13 detection system for agricultural applications. The SHERLOCKv2 platform combines same-sample multiplexing, lateral flow visual readouts, quantitation, and amplification of signal detection. This modified tool was used to quantify glyphosate resistance genes in a soybean mixture and detected multiple herbicide resistance and native plant genes within a single reaction. The technology touts speed, portability, and minimal sample preparation, essential characteristics for a range of field technologies.
Corresponding Author: Feng Zhang, Omar Abudayyeh, & Jonathan Gootenberg (Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard)
2. A barcoded library approach for predicting Cas9 specificity
A drawback of CRISPR-Cas9 technology is its propensity to produce unintended genomic cleavage events at sequences that do not match its target. This is of particular concern for CRISPR-based therapies, in which off-target effects could be harmful to patients. Considerable effort has been made in developing a comprehensive understanding of CRISPR nuclease specificity. However, none of these approaches has delivered a model that can accurately predict a CRISPR nuclease’s ability to cleave based entirely on the sequences of the guide RNA (gRNA) and target. In this issue of The CRISPR Journal, researchers from Editas Medicine have developed a library-based biochemical assay that directly reports the cleavage efficiency of a particular Cas9-guide complex by measuring both uncleaved and cleaved target molecules over a range of mismatched library members. This is the first off-target in silico model to be based on gRNAs. Their approach is rapid and capable of generating protein- and guide-specific predictions while simultaneously informing on the biophysics of Cas9 binding versus cutting.
Corresponding Author: Barrett Steinberg (Editas Medicine, Cambridge MA, USA)
3. Too Much Compromise in Today’s CRISPR Pipelines
It is difficult to describe the rapid adoption of CRISPR technology without sounding hyperbolic. Researchers who recall the early days of next-generation sequencing barely a decade ago are still astounded at the pace in which CRISPR has been adopted. While there is no question that CRISPR is a game-changing approach to biological engineering, it is important to acknowledge that the technology is still in its infancy and therefore, significant gaps remain. Richard Fox, the Executive Director of Data Science at the gene editing company Inscripta, discusses the importance of addressing existing limitations of CRISPR gene editing in order to realize the full potential of this groundbreaking technology.
Corresponding Author: Richard Fox (Inscripta Inc., Boulder, CO, USA)
4. The Human Right to Science: Assessing Legislation on Germline Engineering
Human germline engineering and its international regulation have become a highly controversial and heavily debated subject in light of recent events. In a new perspective in this issue of The CRISPR Journal, Andrea Boggio and colleagues assess national legislation on germline engineering in 18 countries based on human rights law. Currently, there is no international consensus on how germline engineering should be regulated and existing national legislation fails to provide the governance framework necessary to regulate it in the era of CRISPR. The authors advocate for the human right to science as a starting point for building consensus, at the national and international levels, on governing principles to promote responsible scientific and technological advancements.
Corresponding Author: Andrea Boggio (Bryant University, Smithfield, RI, USA)
5. Giving Genome Editing the Fingers: An Interview with Dana Carroll
Biochemist Dana Carroll was instrumental in the development of zinc finger nucleases, a genome editing predecessor of CRISPR-Cas technology. Although Carroll closed his lab at the University of Utah in 2018, he still has significant influence on the genome editing circuit, such as leading community engagement efforts at the Innovative Genomics Institute in San Francisco. Carroll recently joined CRISPR Journal Executive Editor, Kevin Davies, for an exclusive interview in which he reflects on two decades of research advances in genome editing as well as issues currently impacting the scientific community.
Corresponding Author: Kevin Davies (Executive Editor, The CRISPR Journal)