Science Friday to feature CRISPR research from the Haynes Lab

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Dr. Karmella Haynes will discuss the lab’s latest research at the interface of chromatin engineering and CRISPR with Science Friday host Ira Flatow this Friday, November 4th on Public Radio International (PRI). Arizona listeners can tune in to NPR station KJZZ at 12 noon to listen.

The CRISPR system, a powerful method for editing the letters in the genetic code, has generated a lot of excitement as well as concern in regard to artificially manipulating the DNA in living organisms: crops, livestock, insects, and humans. However, CRISPR is based on a bacterial protein that has never naturally encountered the inside of a human cell, as far as scientists know. So far, many labs have published successful use of CRISPR to cut and edit DNA in human cells grown in the lab, but anecdotes often describe low rates of success. Unreliable CRISPR activity could be costly for medical applications.

The Haynes lab reported this month, in a publication in ACS Synthetic Biology, the discovery of an underlying cause of CRISPR failure: a special system that coils-up DNA in human cells, as well as in other animals and plants. This coiling makes the DNA difficult for CRISPR to gain access to. Their group also found that uncoiling the DNA improves CRISPR activity. This discovery could have a major impact on CRISPR, a powerful and important new tool for cell engineering. The lead author of the paper is Rene Daer, a PhD student in the SBHSE Biological Design program.

Tweet @SciFri @hayneslab (#SciFriLive)
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Archived recording: http://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/just-how-easy-is-it-to-edit-dna/

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