Today, the scientific journal Nature Methods, retracted a publication by Schaefer et al. that appeared on 30 May 2017 claiming to have found numerous unexpected mutations after a CRISPR-Cas9 experiment in vivo, in mice. The unexpectedly high number of off-target mutations reported in the study caught the field by surprise, where noone else appeared to have found similar data. However, this was a most relevant issue, should have been true, directly affecting the expectatives of the CRISPR-derived uses and applications. That publication negatively impacted in the nascent field of genome editing applications, particularly those related to biomedicine, to develop innovative gene therapy approaches. However, almost immediately, many groups around the world expressed doubts and critized the experimental design of the study and the interpretation of the observed results. Soon thereafter, several manuscripts and publications were released with more plausible alternative explanations (low number of cases analyzed, mice genetically unrelated, persisting Cas9 expression…). Anyone interested to review a timeline of events associated with this publication can visit the corresponding section of the CRISPR web at the CNB-CSIC, maintained by Lluis Montoliu.
The first phrase of the Editorial Retraction note explains this decision: “This paper is being retracted because the genomic variants observed by the authors in two CRISPR-treated mice cannot be conclusively attributed to CRISPR–Cas9.“. In other words, the most plausible explanation for the original findings were the underlying genetic differences between control and experimental mice, in principle derived from the same genetic background, but in reality selected from unrelated, and hence, genetically different, mouse colonies.
Basic information about the ARRIGE initiative can be obtained from this Presentation document (March 2014), prepared by the ARRIGE Steering Committee. This is a working document.
How to join ARRIGE?
The ARRIGE initiative was launched in Paris on 23 March 2018. However, the association does not exist yet, formally speaking. Currently, we are working hard preparing all the administrative and legal paperwork required to officially register ARRIGE as an international non-for-profit organization in France, with the great help and commitment from members of the INSERM Ethics Committee. In the meantime we have activated a communication channel, a discussion email list, where all interested individuals and organizations that would like to help and contribute to the foundation of ARRIGE, and/or to eventually become members of the association, are kindly invited to join. If you would like to join ARRIGE please send us a message to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will register your email address in the ARRIGE discussion email list.
Anyone interested in the prokaryotic origins of the CRISPR systems and their transformation into the most efficient ever known genome editing tools should consider visiting this CRISPR web page at CNB-CSIC, maintained by Lluis Montoliu. This is a most useful and regularly updated web repository of publications, information, history, protocols, procedures, talks, videos, etc… all about CRISPR and their use as genome editing tool in a variety of applications.