CRISPR continues to be big news.
Condemnation of the gene editing technology was swift late last year when a researcher in China claimed to have used it to doctor the genomes of twin girls to enable them to resist HIV infection.
Agricultural and future medical applications of CRISPR continue to inspire debate, while the idea of gene drives to fuel extinctions of disease vectors, like mosquitoes, raises concern over the danger of tinkering too much with ecosystems.
CRISPR has entered fiction plots, such as last spring's ridiculous Rampage. The just-axed Netflix reboot of Designated Survivor transformed the acronym into a verb, as in "the bird flu gene was CRISPRed into the virus." Makes me think of biotech bacon.
Although curing disease, wiping out mosquitoes, and creating fictional bioweapons are exciting prospects, I'm more interested in the harnessing of CRISPR to peek at the origins of disease, in cells. Hollis Cline, PhD, and her colleagues at the Scripps Research Institute have done just that to investigate Rett syndrome, reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A Neurological Syndrome
Rett Syndrome affects 1 in every 10,000-15,000 girls, and very rarely boys. The son of NBC news correspondent Richard Engel is an exception; he has a mild mutation. The condition typically arises as a new, dominant mutation on the X chromosome in a gene called MECP2.
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