CRISPR

CRISPR and the Dawn of the New Biotech Revolution

Cures for HIV/AIDS and specifically targeted antibiotics

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CRISPRScissorsSolcansergiuDreamstime
Solcansergiu/Dreamstime

CRISPR genome editing will transform biotechnology and our lives in the next decade making possible (and cheap*) all kinds of new cures, new crops, new livestock, new industrial processes, and new ways to manage the environmental commons. Just two years ago, Science hailed CRISPR as the scientific breakthrough of 2015 noting, "It's only slightly hyperbolic to say that if scientists can dream of a genetic manipulation, CRISPR can now make it happen." Researchers have tweaked CRISPR so that it can find and cut and, if desired, replace essentially any DNA sequence in an organism's set of genes, including those in human beings.

With regard to new cures, researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University and the University of Pittsburgh have just published results in which they used CRISPR to almost entirely eliminate HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, from living experimental animals. Basically, the researchers targeted segments of HIV genes using CRISPR loaded into a viral delivery system that inactivated the HIV genes. Temple University researcher Kamel Khalili said, "Our eventual goal is a clinical trial in human patients."

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Yin et al.

Another group of researchers announced last week that they are developing a pill that would use CRISPR to target specific microbial pathogens. The idea is that a CRISPR antibiotic pill would instruct harmful bacteria to shred their own genes to bits. The researchers have engineered CRISPR to contain bits of genomic DNA of Clostridium difficile into bacteria-killing viruses called bacteriophages. The next step is to package the engineered phages into Lactobacillus bacteria. Found in yogurt, Lactobacillus would survive passage through the human digestive tract while shedding CRISPR phages that infect and then destroy the targeted pathogens. Unlike current antibiotics, CRISPR pills would kill only the targeted pathogens, leaving benign microorganisms alone.

*Cheap, if the Food and Drug Administration regulators don't stand in the way. The initial signs are not good.

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  1. I’d like to see what it can do to cancer cells and, of course, if the technology can be used to fight aging.

    1. http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2…..ersal.html

      Already in animal trials.

    2. KS: With regard to cancer, researchers are already on it. As far as I can tell, no one has yet specifically tried using CRISPR to boost longevity, although it seems likely that it could be used to target damaging senescent cells.

      1. Only a system biology approach will be able to successfully tackle cancer. Ditto for aging. Tackling these issues one gene at a time is like trying to fix an economy with particular government incentives.

    3. Hell, even if they find a way to kill viruses, that would be huge.

      1. We’ve have lots of ways to kill viruses. It’s killing viruses without killing the host along with them that’s hard.

  2. I’m surprised Cuba didn’t come up with this years ago.

    1. The researchers have engineered CRISPR to contain bits of genomic DNA of Clostridium difficile into bacteria-killing viruses called bacteriophages. The next step is to package the engineered phages into Lactobacillus bacteria. Found in yogurt, Lactobacillus would survive passage through the human digestive tract while shedding CRISPR phages that infect and then destroy the targeted pathogens.

      Debatably, phage therapy was pioneered by the Russians. *Spoiler Alert* everybody went with antibiotics and it had little to do with the politics (phage therapy cocktails are, or can be, as finicky as flu vaccines).

      Not to say that the doctors/scientists are wasting their time in attempting, just that sometimes you add features to a system and they work better, most of the time you’re adding complexity to a system with the expectation of better results.

      1. Phage therapy is more common in Europe.

        1. Phage therapy is more common in Europe.

          Depending on the part of Europe you’re talking about, so is homeopathy. Not to equate the two, phage therapy has undisputedly saved lives, but the researchers/advertisers here cobble together some novel (to Americans, maybe) technology and paint the picture of a finished product.

    2. Cuban Revolutionary Intelligentsia Socialist Party Revolution.

      Another Marxian technology stolen by capitalist pigs and renamed to hide the truth.

    3. Yeah, Cuba’s cure for cancer would be the same as Iran’s cure for teh gay I’m sure.

      1. From what I understand, they push abortion pretty hard to control all manner of human maladies and misadventures.

  3. Yeah, CRISPR truly is revolutionary.

  4. Aging, sickness, and death are no gods to bow too — I’m fall for human ingenuity giving those dreadful forces a bitch slap 13 billion years in the making.

    And for the all-naturalists; aging, sickness, and death ain’t going anywhere so just step aside and let us get some punches in before the inevitable happens anyway.

    1. Hear hear.

    2. Slowly Decomposing Meat Bag Strikes Back

  5. “It’s only slightly hyperbolic to say that if scientists can dream of a genetic manipulation, CRISPR can now make it happen.”

    Since Clinton (Bill) pledged to sequence the human genome (and TIGR beat him to it), this has not, exactly, been the problem. The issue is that very little of biology is simply plug-and-play (see [embryonic] stem cells).

    None of which should be construed as a stance against CRISPR use or experimentation. Just that we’ve had credentialed “scientists” talk about 3D printed (layer-wise) molecules, desktop dinosaurs, and other similar impossibly good ideas before. Dreaming up (in this case) genetic manipulations isn’t exactly science.

  6. People living longer will result in looser death penalty punishments. You heard it here first.

    1. Just wait until concurrent sentences get distributed across computing cores.

  7. Once again, Bailey offers the world order!

  8. My wife is doing her Master’s at MSU in plant pathology and we hang out with a lot of the PhD students many of whom are focused on genetics.

    The mind boggles when they talk about the potential of this technology.

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