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.
In this short video interview (in Spanish), as a brief summary of a much longer text in El País newspaper, the journalist visits Francisco J. M. Mojica (University of Alicante, Spain) who shows the saltworks of Santa Pola, near Alicante, where he first described the CRISPR arrays from an archaea, 25 years ago. Francis Mojica coined the name of CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) at the end of 2001 and, two years later discovered that CRISPR were part of an adaptive immune system developed by prokaryotes (bacteria and archaea) as a defense mechanism against the virus (bacteriophages) and other molecules of genetic material that infected or visited them. Ten years later, the CRISPR bacterial immune system was transformed into an efficient genome editing tool.
The last (November 2017) annual meeting of the SFG (Société Française de Génétique / French Genetics Society) in Montpellier (France) was devoted to CRISPR : The CRISPR revolution: from bacterial immunity to functional genomics. The meeting organizers (among which one of the members of the ARRIGE Steering Committee, Cyril Sarrauste de Menthière) made an interview (in French) to Sylvain Moineau (Université Laval, Québec, Canada; one of the pioneers of the CRISPR systems in bacteria) and Christian Siatka (Director of the “Ecole de l’ADN”). This video, now available from the YouTube platform is here enclosed, within the ARRIGE blog, for educational purposes
Yesterday, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a statement in favour of Plant Breeding Innovation. In the US, the USDA will not regulate genome-edited plants (obtained, for example, through CRISPR tools), as long as they are not pest plants or developed using plant pests, and as long as the resulting genetic alleles could have been also introduced by any traditional breeding technique. In other words, if the CRISPR-derived allele matches an allele previously existing in nature the resulting genome edited plants will not be regulated by USDA. This decision is expected to favour Plant Breeders and researchers in the field of Plant Breeding innovation and is also expected to expedite the development of numerous genome edited plants resistant to drought and diseases or with increased nutritional value.
In Europe some hints towards a similar direction have been seen last January, with the publication of an Opinion by the EU lawyer of the Court of Justice of the European Union on a recent dispute ongoing in France. However, to date, the European Commission, through the European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) has not yet issued a final decision on the subject.
Science magazine is featuring the ARRIGE initiative in an interesting article by Martin Enserink. The journalist talked to Hervé Chneiweiss, Peter Mills and Lluís Montoliu on the past Friday ARRIGE kick-off meeting in Paris, and also contacted Sheila Jassanoff, who had presented a similar global proposal for genome editing governance in another article published in Nature last week.
The ethicist Mylène Botbol-Baum, from the Catholic University of Louvain, Brussels, Belgium, and member of the INSERM Ethics Committee, delivered an interesting lecture at the recent ARRIGE kick-off meeting in Paris. Her talk was on ‘Taking seriously the anthropological and societal impact of genome editing technologies’ where she presented several aspects on the conversation of genome editing with the Society. She referred to the common use of metaphores and the conflict of narratives when trying to communicate these scientific advances.
Ewa Bartnik (University of Warsaw, Poland) reviewed the multiple reports and documents already published on the subject, with positions from other groups, agencies, societies, associations, councils and governmental bodies on the associated Ethics aspects of genome editing technologies and their impact in human beings, animals, plants and the environment. At the ARRIGE kick-off meeting in Paris, Ewa Bartnik updated her previous presentation on this matter which she had nicely prepared for the November 2017 meeting in Paris too.
The recent ARRIGE kick-off meeting in Paris had the pleasure to have Francisco Juan Martínez Mojica (Francis Mojica), microbiologist from the University of Alicante (Spain), delivering the first keynote lecture of the conference. In his very interesting talk, Francis Mojica reviewed the origins of the CRISPR systems in prokaryotes, as part of an ancient acquired immune defense system, and their recent conversion into powerful genome editing tools. He is convinced that we are just beginning to understand the unexpected complexity of bacterial immune systems. CRISPR could be just one of many, yet to be identified and described. There is a great future ahead in the field of Molecular Microbiology for discovering new CRISPR and CRISPR-like systems that could be transformed and adapted for the efficient and safe manipulation of genomes, including the human genome.
At the ARRIGE Kick-Off meeting, participant delegates came from more than 35 countries all over the world, including most countries from Europe, and some countries from Asia, Africa and America, from North-America, through Central-America and South-America. This was a most successful event triggering the interest of a large variety of institutions, individuals and diverse stakeholders, with an interest in the responsible use of genome editing technologies.