This press release is issued on behalf of The CRISPR Journal, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert Inc. dedicated to publishing outstanding research and commentary in all aspects of CRISPR and gene editing research. The Journal is dedicated to validating and publishing outstanding research and commentary on CRISPR biology, technology and genome editing, and commentary and debate of key policy, regulatory, and ethical issues affecting the field. The Journal is published bimonthly online and in print and is led by Editor-in-Chief Rodolphe Barrangou, PhD (North Carolina State University); Executive Editor is Dr. Kevin Davies. See http://www.crisprjournal.com 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 ([email protected]) at the Publisher.
1. Commentary: Gene Editing Regulations for Food Animals
Over the past few decades, the pace of acceptance of genetically engineered (GE) crops has outstripped the application of genetic engineering in food animals. During this time, only a single GE food animal – the AquAdvantage salmon – has been approved (in Canada). This sharp divide may be accentuated further following a draft FDA guidance, issued in January 2017, which would require premarket new animal drug evaluation of all "intentional genomic alterations" of livestock and other food animal genomes by gene editing tools such as CRISPR. This regulation would be imposed regardless of the novelty of the alteration or the presence of any hazards in the resulting product.
In a commentary published online by The CRISPR Journal, Alison Van Eenennaam (UC Davis) cautions that such a regulatory approach "will effectively introduce additional layers of regulatory scrutiny on products produced using gene editing that are no different to those that could have been obtained using conventional breeding" and has "potential global implications in terms of sustainability of food animal production." Examples of alternative regulatory strategies are given.
2. Research: CRISPRdisco discovery pipeline
Much has been made of the rapid uptake and ease of use of CRISPR since the first descriptions of CRISPR-Cas9 as a gene editing tool in 2012-13. In a new research paper published online in The CRISPR Journal, Alexandra Crawley and colleagues (in the lab of The CRISPR Journal Editor-in-Chief, Rodolphe Barrangou, in partnership with AgBiome) describe a new bioinformatic pipeline, dubbed CRISPRdisco (CRISPR discovery), to help researchers identify and characterize CRISPR repeats and the corresponding genes encoding Cas nucleases.
The authors use the pipeline to classify putative CRISPR-Cas systems in more than 5,000 replicons encompassing some 3,000 genomes.
3. Interview: Virginijus Siksnys, Institute of Biotechnology, Vilnius University
Much of the early history of CRISPR research took place outside North America: in Japan, Spain, the Netherlands, France… and Lithuania. Virginijus Siksnys, of the Institute of Biotechnology, Vilnius University, has a long history of studying the structural biology and function of bacterial restriction enzymes, which eventually evolved into the study of CRISPR-related nucleases. In 2011, Siksnys and colleagues demonstrated the portability, transferability, and re-programmability of a CRISPR immune system, an important step towards the development of CRISPR gene editing. A subsequent paper in 2012 further characterized the biochemical properties of CRISPR-Cas9. Siksnys, who is also an Associate Editor of The CRISPR Journal, offers a candid and interesting viewpoint of these landmarks in CRISPR history in conversation with Executive Editor Kevin Davies.