CRISPR

CRISPR Cas9 explained. CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) are segments of prokaryotic DNA containing short repetitions of base sequences. is an RNA-guided gene-editing platform that makes use of a bacterially derived protein (Cas9) and a synthetic guide RNA to introduce a double strand break at a specific location within the genome.

Cas9 is an enzyme that snips DNA, and CRISPR is a collection of DNA sequences that tells Cas9 exactly where to snip.

Jennifer Doudna awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry

October 7, 2020

Jennifer Doudna

 Jennifer Doudna, 2020 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry. photo: Keegan Hauser

For immediate release

Jennifer Doudna is optimistic about how CRISPR will continue to empower our biological understanding

February 28, 2019

Jennifer DoudnaIn this interview, Doudna argues for caution when contemplating changes to the human genome that could be passed down for generations. She remains a forceful advocate for the potential of CRISPR in basic research, as well as its medical and biotech applications. “I think when you understand how things work, you can apply them more effectively. And once you apply them, you invariably uncover things that you didn’t understand about the fundamental biology of that system,” Doudna said. “I love that kind of interplay.”

UC Berkeley launches trial of saliva test for COVID-19

June 30, 2020

COVID-19 saliva based test

Scientists from the Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI), the same UC Berkeley group that rapidly popped up a state-of-the-art COVID-19 testing laboratory in March, are now trialing a quicker way to obtain patient samples: through saliva. Saliva, collected in the same way companies like 23andMe and Ancestry.com get samples for DNA genealogy analysis, can be gathered without medical supervision, and that saves time, money and precious PPE.

Megaphages harbor mini-Cas proteins ideal for gene editing

July 20, 2020

Illustration of a megaphage injecting its DNA into a gene

The DNA-cutting proteins central to CRISPR-Cas9 and related gene-editing tools originally came from bacteria, but a newfound variety of Cas proteins apparently evolved in viruses that infect bacteria. The new Cas proteins were found in the largest known bacteria-infecting viruses, called bacteriophages, and are the most compact working Cas variants yet discovered — half the size of today’s workhorse, Cas9.

Nano strategy overcomes barriers to plant genetic engineering

May 28, 2020

Markita Landry files paten for new nanotube technology

Markita Landry and UC Berkeley recently filed patents on a new nanotube technology to delete genes in crop plants without the risk of inserting new genes. Editing the genome of crop plants can boost such traits as disease resistance or drought tolerance. Since the new process adds no genes to the plant genome in the editing process, it conforms to non-GMO requirements in the U.S. and several other countries outside Europe.

With its coronavirus rapid paper test strip, this CRISPR startup wants to help halt a pandemic

March 16, 2020

new CRISPR based test for coronavirus

A potential solution to speeding up the diagnostics of coronavirus may have presented itself in the form of the gene editing molecular tool called CRISPR. Combined with high-scale advances in automation and computation, CRISPR promises to be a real game-changer in the field of synthetic biology, impacting everything from chemicals and materials to food and health. CRISPR’s precision has an uncanny ability to find a specific sequence within a sample, and one startup has a way to test for coronavirus in 30 minutes (the whole process including sample preparation will take about 4 hours).

'Human Nature': film review

March 16, 2020

film review of 'Human Nature

How many newspaper stories, magazine features and TV segments have been produced so far that marvel at the revolutionary capabilities of CRISPR while giving almost no idea at all how the gene-editing discovery actually works? Those who lament the state of science journalism should take note of 'Human Nature', in which Adam Bolt and helpful scientists offer an easily understood introduction to techniques often described with head-scratching phrases like "it's a word processor for DNA!" A cogent, wide-ranging look at both the discovery and the nascent, soon-to-be-giant fights humans are having over it, the documentary should be welcomed in its limited theatrical release and will be even more useful on video.

Huge bacteria-eating viruses narrow gap between life and non-life

February 12, 2020

Discovery of new class of phages

Scientists have discovered hundreds of unusually large, bacteria-killing viruses with capabilities normally associated with living organisms, blurring the line between living microbes and viral machines as reported in new research findings in Nature. These phages — short for bacteriophages, so-called because they “eat” bacteria — are of a size and complexity considered typical of life, carry numerous genes normally found in bacteria and use these genes against their bacterial hosts.

Jennifer Doudna awarded 2020 Wolf Prize in Medicine

January 13, 2020

Jennifer Doudna

Jennifer Doudna, UC Berkeley professor of molecular and cell biology and of chemistry, has won the 2020 Wolf Prize in Medicine, a prestigious international prize awarded in Israel for unique contributions to humanity.