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Gene editing in New Zealand: Research with CRISPR-Cas

In the past decade, new technologies for editing DNA within living cells have exploded onto the biomedical research scene.

These technologies are based on a molecular editing system called CRISPR, which is naturally found in bacteria. Bacteria use CRISPR to fight off invading viruses, but people can now use it too, in many different ways.

Not only have gene editing systems opened up many new ways to explore how life works, they also have the potential to help improve human health, produce better crops, and fight environmentally damaging pests.

Here three young scientists from the University of Otago’s Department of Biochemistry tell us about how they plan to use CRISPR gene editing in their diverse research projects.

How legumes adapt (00:43): Dr Soledad Perez-Santangelo will use CRISPR to help find out which genes help legume plants adapt to places around the world with different day lengths.

Pest control (04:28): Gemma McLaughlin is looking at how to use CRISPR in a ‘gene drive’ approach to humanely remove invasive wasps from New Zealand.

Brain disease (9:03): Oluwatobi Eboda is using CRISPR to figure out how changes in particular genes cause neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

More information

CRISPR and gene editing 

A beautiful animation from the Nature Research journals of how the CRISPR-Cas machinery cuts DNA, and explanation of how else CRISPR-Cas can be used:

Genome editing resource
This collection of articles from the Nature Research journals provides an overview of current progress in developing targeted genome editing technologies.

The wired guide to crispr
Nicely written article about what CRISPR is, including its history.

PDB 101 Molecule of the Month: Cascade and CRISPR
Pictures of the CRISPR machinery and descriptions of how it works.

Gene editing technologies
The Royal Society of New Zealand introduces gene editing and its implications.

Australian gene-editing rules adopt ‘middle ground’
News item about the updated regulations [in Australia] that allow scientists to use some genome-editing techniques in plants and animals without government approval (the Nature Research journals).

Film trailer towards gene editing in humans
A New Zealand scientist’s views on an upcoming documentary about the future of gene editing.

Sciblogs
Search using “GMO” or “gene editing”, etc, for clearly written opinions by New Zealand scientists about the regulation of these technologies.

Why I’m quitting GMO research
A plant biologist describes her struggles with misconceptions about GMOs.

Gene drives

A Kurzgesagt animation explaining malaria and a kind of gene drive that makes mosquitos unable to spread the malaria-causing parasite:

Two cartoon summaries of how CRISPR gene drives work:


A video from the MIT Media Lab about an idea for gene drives that could limit their spread:

Self-destructing mosquitoes and sterilized rodents: the promise of gene drives
The Nature Research journals give an update on the potential for and the concerns about gene drives.

News items on the recently developed gene drive that wiped out a population of mosquitos in the lab:
Mozzies knocked out with gene drive - Expert Reaction
Study: Gene Drive Wipes Out Lab Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes that can carry malaria eliminated in lab experiments
Using Gene Drives to Limit the Spread of Malaria
Infographic: Using Gene Drive to Control Malaria


Return to the main Otago Biochemistry high school resources page here