September 27, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Nature Biotechnology looking at NgAgo paper amidst reproducibility concerns

When potentially game changing new technologies are reported such as NgAgo gene editing, both scientists and the public get excited, but especially if such new reports stem from a single paper it is wise to take a cautious approach for a while. The key question is whether the new findings will turn out to be reproducible.

With the case of NgAgo specifically, the Nature Biotechnology paper reporting potentially very desirable gene editing properties, drew a lot of interest. See archived blog posts on NgAgo here.

NgAgo China newspaper
Snapshot of part of China Daily article. Photo Credit Dr. Robert Geller

However, recently many within the scientific community have reported consistent difficulties in getting NgAgo to function as reported. Gaetan Burgio did a guest post here presenting 7 figures of data that together paint a picture of NgAgo not functioning at all like CRISPR.

Now comes word that Nature Biotechnology is looking into the NgAgo paper from Han Chunyu Han from Hebei University of Science and Technology to determine what is going on. This situation even made it into China’s official government run newspaper (see headline and a bit of the article above in image, HT to Bob Geller).

Does NgAgo work as a gene editor, but only under very specific conditions? Can it do something else such as act like a ligase?

Hopefully more clarity can quickly be achieved on NgAgo. Some are comparing NgAgo to STAP, but I think that’s premature at this stage.

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