How CRISPR is speeding up animal research

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Image source: Medium

Fifteen years ago or so, when Helen Sang, a geneticist at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, and her colleagues wanted to get a gene into a chicken, the process was anything but fast.

But in the last few years, a new technology has arrived on the scene. CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing has made its way into labs around the world. It’s a comparatively cheap, fast, and adaptable way of precisely snipping out pieces of the genome and swapping in new pieces, which can be used directly on the DNA in reproductive cells and produces a finished mouse in three weeks. In chickens, it nearly halves the amount of time needed, Sang says. The tools are so quick, she says with a laugh, that “I sometimes think I should have sat with my feet up for a long time and waited for them to come.”

With something like this in hand, ideas that might have seemed overwhelmingly difficult are now potentially doable. In particular, scientists have swiftly adapted CRISPR tools for use in animals beyond mice, fruit flies, and other model organisms. That opens up a whole menagerie of creatures where quick, accurate gene editing is possible, with implications for agriculture and medicine.

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In Sang’s lab, using CRISPR, the researchers are able to get their genes into chicken eggs with much higher efficiency.

Read full, original post: How CRISPR is Spreading Through the Animal Kingdom

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