Two separate research groups used CRISPR gene editing to fuse entire sets of brewer’s yeast chromosomes together, resulting in two strains with just one and two chromosomes. Surprisingly, the changes had little effect on most functions of the yeast. Their findings could be monumental to the study of chromosomes and why their numbers vary from species to species.
Researchers from the University of California tested gene-drive technology in mice. This controversial application of CRISPR, capable of altering the genomes of entire species, has been applied to mammals for the first time. Although the developed technology has a long way to go before being used for pest control in the wild, it could be useful in basic research.
Researchers from China have modified an Artemisia annua genetic sequence to produce a higher level of a potent antimalarial compound, artemisinin. The group identified genes involved in making artemisinin in Artemisia annua and altered their activity to produce three times more drug than usual. Their work will help to meet the large global demand for artemisinin, which is also used to treat cancer, tuberculosis, and diabetes.
Scientists from Duke University discovered that DNA contains a “built-in timer” that clocks the frequency with which mutations occur. Their research shows that DNA bases can change shape within a thousandth of a second, allowing them to temporarily morph into alternative states.
A team of researchers decoded the entire genetic information of the salamander axolotl. It is the largest genome ever to be sequenced. The “Mexican walking fish” could provide us with the foundation for novel insights into human tissue regeneration capacities.
CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Palindromic Repeats) gene editing technology allows permanent modification of genes within organisms. It is considered a breakthrough in biotechnology ever since its discovery. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), led by Spanish researcher Guillermo Montoya, now went one step further. They discovered how Cpf1, a new type of molecular scissors, unzip and cleave DNA.
The largest genome-wide study of baldness identified over 250 novel genetic variants involved in its onset. Male pattern baldness is a major source of anxiety and depression among men and has been linked to serious cardiovascular diseases and prostate cancer.
The Francis Crick Institute of London was granted permission for genome editing in human embryos in order to study the complex processes involved in early miscarriage. This is the first time a research team has ever been exempt from the ban on human testing and represents an important step forward for science.
Researchers from Harvard University announced their plan to bring the woolly mammoth back to life using CRISPR/Cas9 within two years’ time. This would not only allow us to learn more about the prehistoric behemoth, but would also represent a first step towards preservation of endangered species.
An international collaboration of scientists successfully produced a stable artificial strain of bacteria with an extended “genetic alphabet”. The microbe encompasses two additional “X” and “Y” nucleotides, which enable it to store increased information within its genome, laying foundations for new forms of life.