‘Dead CRISPR’ may offer easier way to create stem cells


The ability to make stem cells from other cell types has largely been a recent phenomenon. It took a huge amount of research and testing to get to that point and, even today, it requires a complex cocktail of chemicals to induce the needed genetic and epigenetic changes that revert a cell to its infancy. The process isn’t the most efficient method, but when it involves the creation of cells of universal possibility, any procedure that sees success is desirable.

Even from the beginning however, it was known that there were other options. But we just didn’t know how to properly utilize them….

So the chemical cocktail has been the norm since. Researchers haven’t stopped investigating other possibilities though and now, scientists at the Gladstone Institutes in California may have achieved that alternative. And it is seemingly an obvious one in hindsight. What else is CRISPR for, after all?

Since the purpose of this experiment was to activate these transcription factor genes and not remove or alter their sequence, the researchers chose against using regular CRISPR-Cas9 and instead went with dead Cas9 (dCas9).

The system will need to be replicated with other cell types and, eventually, in human cell lines before we will see any real use from it, but this is a big step toward having alternatives to the older methods of stem cell production. This new method may also prove capable of mass production of stem cells in the future, giving treatment availability for the many conditions that need them.

[Editor’s note: Read the full study (behind paywall)]

Read full, original post: First pluripotent stem cells created using dead CRISPR gene activation

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