CRISPR Journal - The World in Our Hands

CRISPR Journal - The World in Our Hands

09 Oct 11:00 by James Hume

The global potential of CRISPR genome editing


The curious scientist should be excited to know about the creation of The CRISPR Journal is here!!!! February 2018............

The New Year is here and an exciting one it is expected to be. CRISPR technology and ground-breaking advances within the research associated to CRISPR is changing the world. Researchers are deploying CRISPR across a wide range of life science disciplines, from medicine and biofuels to industrial fermentation and agriculture. It was realized by The Mary Ann Liebert Incorporation, that there is a need to be provided with current, comprehensive and diversified insights related to CRISPR and genome editing from a flexible platform for the scientific community. It is hoped this will open discussions and debate. In the words of Albert Einstein, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

It is anticipated the Journal will bring us together to share knowledge and research from across the globe from its launch date this February. Rodolphe Barrangou, PhD is the newly appointed Editor-in-Chief. The Mary Ann Liebert Incorporation have selected Rudolphe to lead in the movement of this exciting new Journal heading into 2018.

The Journal will strive to offer fair, and constructive peer review, with editorial decisions made by practicing scientists. They have also stated that they “are committed to showcasing these articles in our pages and working with all media outlets to ensure maximal visibility and coverage.” (Rodolphe Barrangou, PhD). Though several journals do publish impactful CRISPR research, there is a need for a fully integrated publication to cover both the science and discuss its implications for a diversified and ever-expanding user community. The CRISPR journal is expected to be all encompassing.

I have been amazed by the rapid growth of CRISPR, particularly the spectacular rise of Cas9-enabled genome editing in eukaryotes although CRISPR extends far beyond the scientific realm, encompassing ethical considerations, regulatory gaps, and societal issues swirling around this pivotal technology. However, many of these critical issues transcend fields, and cover a wide range of applications beyond translational research and the clinic.

2018 will see applications for more clinical trials, though most likely ones that involve simply deleting a problematic gene rather than correcting it. Additionally researchers are looking at how to use CRISPR to solve problems that don’t have other good solutions, like eliminating zoonotic diseases such as lyme disease and malaria by using what’s known as a gene drive to alter the DNA of a wild species, or even growing transplantable organs in pigs.


In 2009 using zinc finger nucleases doctors treated patients that had chronic aviremic HIV infection while they were receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Doctors removed immune cells from those patients, disabled the gene for the CCR5 receptor which the virus uses to get into cells and returned the HIV-resistant cells to the body. The study supports the feasibility of targeted genome editing to introduce a disease-resistance allele. It was suggested by scientists and doctors within the trial, unsurprisingly, that further research was required.

For a short time, there was little progress until 2012 when CRISPR genome editing was developed creating a cheap and easy way to target almost any sequence. So far CRISPR has created mosquitoes that don’t transmit malaria, unusually muscular beagles and micro pigs (who knew!!!!) These interesting genomic adaptions that have varying effects on the world moving into 2018 are intriguing although the evolution of health care and the industrial and agricultural industry is key.

In 2017 CRISPR Therapeutics became the first to submit a clincal trial application to European regulators. Tests are set to begin for its therapy that combines CRISPR gene editing stem cell therapy to treat the blood disorder beta thalassemia in 2018. They also plan to file an application to conduct a clinical trial using a similar therapy to treat sickle cells disease also in 2018. In addition, Stanford are also working on using CRISPR to treat sickle cell disease and are moving toward clinical trials. They expect to file a clinical trial application with the FDA by the end of 2018 for the trial to begin in 2019.

Moving into 2018 there continues to be an existing biomedical dual between the US and China with the US stating they were concerned that China’s trials were irresponsibly premature. Although moving forwards China will be the first to run a pioneering CRISPR trial to try editing the genomes of cells inside the body using CRISPR to eliminate cancer-causing HPV virus that was addressed in 2009 using ZFN’s. After receiving a regulatory stamp of approval to proceed, it is unclear what has caused that trial’s delay. Although its predict there will be further applications from China for trials that will disable PD-1 with CRISPR. These target conditions including breast, prostate, bladder, oesophageal, kidney, colorectal and Epstein-Barr virus-associated cancers.

Does a need exist to ask the right questions, provide broad and diversified insights, and offer a flexible platform for open discussions and debate? The hope is that The CRISPR Journal will provide both impactful research and become the forum to build and connect the global CRISPR community.

We are fortunate to be thriving while this incredible research is progressing into areas unknown. Scientists continue to markedly accelerate, making what was previously thought impossible a reality. Are you a CRISPR and/or Genome editing specialist, researcher, teacher, scientist, student or just curious? Whomever you are I’d love to hear your opinion.

The surge in CRISPR and gene editing justifies the creation of this dedicated journal, devoted to CRISPR.

What questions or thoughts do you have, about the journal, about CRISPR and its developments in the areas it can be applied to. I’d very much like to hear what you have to say!!!! Remember one of the greatest minds ever known said “The important thing is not to stop questioning.” #everythingCRISPR





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