For (probably) the first time ever, plants modified with the “genetic scissors” CRISPR-Cas9 has been cultivated, harvested and cooked.
Stefan Jansson, professor in Plant Cell and Molecular Biology at Umeå University, served pasta with “CRISPRy” vegetable fry to a radio reporter. Although the meal only fed two people, it was still the first step towards a future where science can better provide farmers and consumers across the world with healthy, beautiful and hardy plants.
CRISPR (Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-Cas9 is a complicated name for an easy, but targeted, way of changing the genes of an organism. The decisive discovery was published in 2012 by researchers at Umeå University, and the ”Swiss army knife of genetic engineering” has been predicted to change the world. With CRISPR-Cas9, researchers can either replace one of the billions of “letters” present in an organism’s genome (i.e. the entire gene pool consisting of DNA) or remove short segments, similar to when you edit a written text in a word processor. The technology is called “gene editing” or “genome editing”.
The first clinical applications are underway; maybe we can soon cure hereditary disease using this technology. However, the situation differs somewhat in the agricultural field. There, the issue is not IF researchers can create plants leading to a more sustainable land management, but rather if these will be allowed in farming. Will plants whose genome has been edited using CRISPR-Cas9 fall under GMO legislation or not? If they do, it makes them illegal to plant in great parts of the world. If not, they will – just like other plants – be allowed to be grown at the farmers own discretion.
Can be cultivated legally
The EU has avoided answering the question, but in November 2015 the Swedish Board of Agriculture interpreted the law as if only a segment of DNA has been removed and no “foreign DNA” has been inserted, it is not to be regarded as a genetically modified organism – a GMO. That also means that the plant can be cultivated without prior permission. In spring 2016, American authorities stated that they agreed. The organism in question there was a mushroom who had lost the part of its DNA that made it go brown. This opens up for using the technology to develop plants of the future.
This summer has been the first time that plants that have been gene-edited using CRISPR-Cas9 – in a way that does not classify the plant as GMO – have been allowed to be cultivated outside of the lab. This is definitely the first time in Europe, and even if it been done before in other parts of the world, it has been kept secret. This time, it was a cabbage plant and the Radio Sweden gardening show “Odla med P1” took part in the harvest leading to the probably first-ever meal of CRISPR-Cas9 genome-edited plants. The first CRISPR meal to have been enjoyed was “Tagliatelle with CRISPRy fried vegetables”.
“The CRISPR-plants in question grew in a pallet collar in a garden outside of Umeå in the north of Sweden and were neither particularly different nor nicer looking than anything else,” says plant scientist Stefan Jansson. But they represent both a new phase of agriculture where scientific advances will be implemented in new plant species and that to a small or large extent will be made available to farmers across the world. In other words: a meal for the future.
The Latest on: CRISPR-Cas9
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The Latest on: CRISPR-Cas9
- CRISPR/Cas9 therapy can suppress aging, enhance health and extend life span in mice on February 19, 2019 at 8:52 am
Researchers have developed a new gene therapy to help decelerate the aging process. The findings highlight a novel CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing therapy that can suppress the accelerated aging observed i... […]
- UW Human Stem Cell Gene Editing Service considers expanding as service demand increases on February 19, 2019 at 8:03 am
The CRISPR-Cas9 is the latest generation of gene editing technology. This technology allows researchers to go into the IPS cells and edit the genome with great precision. Out of over a billion base pa... […]
- A new CRISPR/Cas9 therapy can suppress aging on February 19, 2019 at 7:30 am
Aging is a leading risk factor for a number of debilitating conditions, including heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's disease, to name a few. This makes the need for anti-aging therapies all the ... […]
- Putting the brakes on aging on February 19, 2019 at 6:46 am
The findings, published on February 18, 2019 in the journal Nature Medicine, highlight a novel CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing therapy that can suppress the accelerated aging observed in mice with Hutchins... […]
- CRISPR Gene Editing Makes Stem Cells ‘Invisible’ to Immune System on February 19, 2019 at 6:06 am
UC San Francisco scientists have used the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing system to create the first pluripotent stem cells that are functionally “invisible” to the immune system, a feat of biological engine... […]
- CRISPR Sleight of Hand Generates Immunologically Invisible Stem Cells on February 19, 2019 at 5:40 am
An international research team has used CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to render induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) invisible to the immune system, a bioengineering sleight of hand that initial in vivo ... […]
- CRISPR technology creates pluripotent stem cells that are 'invisible' to the immune system on February 18, 2019 at 10:17 am
UC San Francisco scientists have used the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing system to create the first pluripotent stem cells that are functionally "invisible" to the immune system, a feat of biological engine... […]
- Development of a CRISPR/Cas9-based therapy for Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome on February 18, 2019 at 8:38 am
CRISPR/Cas9-based therapies hold considerable promise for the treatment of genetic diseases. Among these, Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome, caused by a point mutation in the LMNA gene, stands out ... […]
- Single-dose CRISPR–Cas9 therapy extends lifespan of mice with Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome on February 18, 2019 at 8:32 am
Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS) is a rare lethal genetic disorder characterized by symptoms reminiscent of accelerated aging. The major underlying genetic cause is a substitution mutation ... […]
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