Scientists Are Using CRISPR Gene Editing for Innovations Ranging from FDA-Approved Cows to Hypoallergenic Cats
In today’s fast-paced news environment, if you blink, you might miss out on learning about yet another of the latest CRISPR innovations.
Recently, scientists have been harnessing the power of CRISPR gene editing to develop hypoallergenic cats, FDA-approved CRISPR cows, and CRISPR cancer therapeutics. Read on for insight into these latest CRISPR innovations.
CRISPR Gene Editing for Hypoallergenic Cats
It’s no secret that some folks have a difficult time being around animals of the feline persuasion. Allergies to housecats prevent some people from welcoming these pets into their homes, even if the rest of their family wants to have a kitty.
But now, there is the prospect of buying a hypoallergenic cat, made possible with CRISPR gene editing. According to Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, researchers from the Virginia-based biotechnology firm InBio have employed CRISPR gene editing during a research project to curb humans’ allergic reactions to their feline companions.
InBio focuses on asthma, allergies and environmental sciences. It decided to take on cat allergies because they affect as many as 15% of people. Some individuals can get by with taking antihistamines or other medical treatments, but this option is not suitable for everyone. And the treatments are not always going to be 100% effective anyway.
That’s why there’s growing interest in developing a so-called hypoallergenic cat. InBio is testing CRISPR to find and edit out “Fel d 1,” which is a protein that cats produce in their salivary and sebaceous glands and is responsible for about 95% of allergic responses.
Research so far has taken place in test tubes. More studies are required before actually trying such edits on living cats.
CRISPR Cancer Therapeutics
Scientists have known for some time now that cancer can result after DNA undergoes changes, such as mutations or other types of damage. The dream is to be able to repair these genetic defects, to cure diseases, and prevent people from becoming ill or disabled in the first place.
So the scientific community was cheered to see in 2013, when CRISPR gene editing came onto the scene, used to change human DNA inside living cells, as neatly as using scissors, as noted by the National Cancer Institute. The NCR reports that CRISPR is shaking up the world of cancer treatment and research. This gene-editing tool is entering mainstream use just 9 years after first being demonstrated.
Researchers have, for example, been using CRISPR to edit immune cell genes to test how well these cells can now go after cancer and destroy it. However, it’s not yet a fool-proof system. CRISPR sometimes makes unintended edits to other sections of DNA, so it will be some time before clinical human trials might be able to demonstrate its safety and efficacy in oncology therapy.
FDA-approved CRISPR Cows
On March 7, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that Acceligen’s gene-edited cattle are not a safety concern. Acceligen raised two beef cattle that have had their DNA adjusted to enhance the slick-coat trait, according to Chemical & Engineering News.
Cows born with this trait are able to tolerate hot weather more easily. This makes them ideal for farmers raising cattle in tropical environments.
So cattle bred using the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology put forward by Acceligen are now cleared for market. The company has not yet announced plans for when meat from such animals will be available for sale.
What Innovations Will Come Next With CRISPR Gene Editing?
It’s useful to note how diverse the different approaches are for using CRISPR to make changes to genetic sequences, making real improvements in the world around us.
From cats that don’t provoke allergic reactions to new methods to treat diseases like cancer to advancing how we raise beef cattle for consumption, there is a lot to keep track of in gene editing to keep our eyes on.
Watch this space for future updates on the world of CRISPR gene editing, and the many innovations that industry observers anticipate are still to come.