Gene Therapy in Dogs & Random Number Generator Made from DNA

A Gene Therapy, Tested on Dogs, Has Issues

For CRISPR-based gene therapies to work, you first need to squeeze a Cas protein and guide RNAs into a teeny tiny virus. Then, that packaged virus — bearing its gene-editing payload — has to be inserted into the body.

Random Number Generator, Made from DNA

Chemists have been synthesizing custom DNA sequences for decades. Now, with the technology reaching relative maturity — and with costs plummeting — DNA is considered a viable means to store data.

A Protocol for Evolution Overdrive

In 2011, a paper in Nature disclosed a method to continuously evolve biomolecules, in the laboratory, using phages (a type of virus that infects bacteria). Since that initial study, the method, called PACE — phage-assisted continuous evolution — has vastly improved. Now, instead of waiting thousands of years for a protein to evolve a new function, PACE can be used to iterate through hundreds of rounds of evolutionary selection in a few weeks.

CRISPR + Lipids = Cancer Gene Therapy

CRISPR-Cas9, delivered to tumors, have a pretty low genetic editing efficiency. Now, an open access study in Science Advances reports that a specific type of lipid, packaged with Cas9 mRNA and guide RNAs and injected into the brains of mice with glioblastoma, “enabled up to ~70% gene editing in vivo, which caused tumor cell apoptosis, inhibited tumor growth by 50%, and improved survival by 30%.” That’s a big improvement over some prior efforts to reduce tumor sizes with CRISPR therapies in mice. The researchers also demonstrated that the injections caused “no apparent clinical signs of toxicity,” unlike other methods for gene delivery. Link

A “Hidden” Carbon Fixation Pathway Found in E. coli

To build all the myriad molecules and structures needed for life, organisms need carbon. Plants “fix” carbon by capturing carbon dioxide in the air, and converting it into organic compounds and sugars. Animals and many bacteria, however, are heterotrophs — to survive, they need to hunt down and feed on organic compounds.

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