I tend to perhaps over-focus on human CRISPR or gene editing, but other applications including in agriculture are definitely going to be huge.
CRISPR in agriculture
One that I’ve been following for a long time is the use of CRISPR to prevent cows from growing horns.
Why is that a big deal?
Just in the US alone, millions of cows have their horns removed annually. This is a painful process. If CRISPR could make it largely unnecessary that would be such a great accomplishment. By the way, you might this post on CRISPR critters to be of interest.
Before we go on, Happy New Year!
A new story with gene editing in chickens caught my eye and resonated with the cow gene editing goals on some levels.
Gene-edited hens may end cull of billions of chicks, BBC. I didn’t realize that billions of male chicks are killed each year with the focus on keeping female, egg-laying chickens. This great new gene-editing approach means that after egg exposure to blue light during development, only female chicks will be born. All those males don’t have to be produced and killed. I found what seems to be the patent for this technology, which involves CRISPR-Cas9.
There’s more upside to agricultural gene editing that involves vertebrates, whereas I see work in insects as much riskier. The latter is still quite interesting.
More recommended reads
- Why scientists dug up the father of genetics, Gregor Mendel, and analyzed his DNA, NPR. It’s peculiar because the headline starts with “why” but the article doesn’t provide a good explanation for what the point was of disturbing his remains.
- Mitochondrial augmentation of hematopoietic stem cells in children with single large-scale mitochondrial DNA deletion syndromes, Sci Trans Med.
- UC Davis partners with Caring Cross and CIRM to develop immunotherapy for cancer patients, UC Davis Health.
- Gene-replacement therapies are transforming children’s lives, New Scientist.
- Temporal molecular program of human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells after birth, Dev. Cell.