Just 7 years old, CRISPR gene editing is making food more nutritious and battling COVID

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Just seven years ago, the Broad Institute’s Feng Zhang, PhD, and Harvard geneticist George Church, PhD, separately demonstrated that in human cell cultures, genome editing could be performed using a CRISPR system. CRISPR, which stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, first came to light as part of a naturally occurring defense system in bacteria.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic presented significant challenges, but also a great opportunity, since [biotech startup] Caspr had the tools to quickly develop a diagnostic kit for detection of SARS-CoV2 RNA …. Caspr set up an aggressive development timeframe to build a prototype kit and then produce and deploy at scale. Within three months, the company had submitted an emergency use authorization application to the FDA. The kit [is] …. accessible in a low-complexity or low-resource setting, and capable of completing analyses in less than 60 minutes.

Related article:  'Factory farming' poisons our food and harms animals?

Pairwise is another company with technology licensed from Harvard and the Broad Institute, plus Massachusetts General Hospital …. Pairwise has gone in the direction of agriculture, using CRISPR gene editing to make healthy fruits and vegetables more palatable.

Specifically, Pairwise is developing …. a form of mustard greens that lacks the sharp flavor of conventional mustard greens …. [T]he new mustard greens have both high nutrient content and high yields. Pairwise is also developing seedless blackberries and pitless cherries while exploring additional ways to bring new varieties to market.

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