The CRISPR Journal, a new peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers, announces the publication of its third 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 online and in print. See http://www.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the Publisher.
1. EDITORIAL: A RESPONSE TO THE EU COURT RULING
Last month, a ruling from the European Union Court of Justice declared that gene edited crops using new tools such as CRISPR must fall under GMO guidelines, dealing a potentially devastating blow to the development of enhanced crops and their underlying industry in Europe. ''It will be impossible to rationalize why archaic mutagenesis tools that randomly and heavily alter DNA supersede precise editing that can be implemented in DNA-free versions," says Editor-in-Chief Rodolphe Barrangou in the August lead editorial. While assailing the EU Court ruling, Barrangou articulates how the scientific community must learn from this decision and counter by taking a more active role in outreach to non-scientists and the general public. "We must do our part as experts and evangelists to advance the acceptance of science and technology, and better and more responsibly promote valuable and impactful technologies." This message echoes the theme of another editorial in this issue, in which Barrangou and guest author Carol Lynn Curchoe recall their participation in a formal debate at the Oxford Union earlier this year, where they successfully joined in opposition to the house motion that "Genetic Engineering undermines the nature of humanity."
Contact: Rodolphe Barrangou (North Carolina State University)
2. OFF-TARGET EFFECTS IN HIV THERAPY
Despite significant improvements in anti-HIV therapies over the past two decades, scientists are still looking to devise a cure that would effectively excise the integrated HIV genome from infected cells. Thanks to the emergence of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, researchers now have the means to remove the latent HIV-1 proviral genome from these infected cells, but efficacy is dependent on the negligibility of off-target effects.
In a new report published in The CRISPR Journal, researchers at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia have conducted a thorough computational analysis of potential off-target editing effects. Based on the high rate of specificity seen with multiple guide RNAs, the authors conclude that their in silico results "bode well for the potential of a CRISPR-Cas9-mediated HIV-1 therapeutic strategy." That being said, "in the search for a gRNA template that causes minimal off-target effects, it will be critical that the gRNA be tested against patient samples to con?rm these in silico predictions."
Contact: Will Dampier or Brian Wigdahl (Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia)
3. CRISPR: ON THE EDGE OF GLORY
In a new paper in the August issue of The CRISPR Journal, researchers at the University of Texas, Dallas report a high-throughput CRISPR-based methodology for delineating the role of network edges. Using p53 and its network of upstream and downstream regulators as a model system, including microRNAs, the authors show how a novel CRISPR-based edge screening can be used to dissect important biological interactions essential to cell growth and survival, without impacting the nodes in the same network. They propose the use of this technique for general analysis of biological networks to identify previously hidden interactions and opportunities for intervention.
Contact: Leonidas Bleris (University of Texas, Dallas)
4. P53: GUARDIAN OF GENOME EDITING (First Cut)
British geneticist Sir David Lane, who recently moved his research lab to Singapore, famously dubbed the tumor suppressor gene p53 as the "Guardian of the Genome." P53 has been thrust back into the spotlight following the recent publication of a pair of papers in Nature Medicine, which revealed its crucial role in both determining editing ef?ciency and preserving genome integrity of edited cells. In this "First Cut" review, Lane and postdoctoral fellow Teresa Ho conclude that the p53 articles raise questions regarding "the safety of CRISPR-Cas9 editing in clinical applications without stringent scrutiny of the resultant Cas9-edited cells" and whether treated patients might require long-term monitoring. But ultimately suggest that the findings are "a cautionary rather than apocalyptic tale."
Contact: Teresa Ho (A*Star, Singapore)
5. ETHICS: SOLIDARITY IN THE AGE OF CRISPR (First Cut)
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics is an independent body that examines and reports on ethical issues in biology and medicine. In their recently published report on "Genome Editing and Human Reproduction" they recommended to implement gene editing "only in circumstances in which it cannot reasonably be expected to produce or exacerbate social division or the unmitigated marginalisation or disadvantage of groups within society." This theme, and the attendant need for greater public engagement, is the focus of a "First Cut" by Johns Hopkins bioethicist Debra Mathews. "We will need to be humble, as well as dogged in our efforts to build trusting and trustworthy alliances among scientists, publics, and those engaged in governance," writes Mathews.
Contact: Debra Mathews (Berman Institute of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins University)
6. IT'S A (CONDITIONAL) GENE KNOCKOUT
Gene targeting has been a critical tool in the molecular biology arsenal for decades. In a new article published in The CRISPR Journal, researchers at the Weizmann Institute in Israel report a strategy that combines CRISPR-Cas9 with another gene targeting system, Cre-LoxP. The method enables the conditional targeting of essential genes in mammalian cell tissue culture. The authors say the method is simple, robust, and results in complete depletion of the protein of interest.
Contact: Chaim Kahana (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel).