Ground Breaking Technologies

Posted by on Monday, November 20th, 2017 in General

Today, you may hear the term Gene Editing in daily conversation.  There are many applications for Gene Editing including targeted gene modification, gene therapy and eradicating diseases. What is Gene Editing in layman’s terms? Genome editing, or genome editing with engineered nucleases (GEEN) is a type of genetic engineering in which DNA is inserted, deleted or replaced in the genome of a living organism using “molecular scissors”. Today’s molecular scissors allow scientists to make site specific edits to the genome. The most  frequently used molecular scissors is the (CRISPR)-Cas 9 system.  CRISPR stands for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats”.

To get an idea of the magnitude of this discovery, genome editing was selected by Nature Methods as the 2011 Method of the Year. The CRISPR-Cas 9 system was selected by Science as 2015 Breakthrough of the Year.

Dr. Mark Allan, Director of Genetic Technology at Trans Ova Genetics says “Someday, gene editing will allow us to do in one generation, what producers have spent a career trying to achieve.  Historically, introgression of a trait like black coat color, was achieved by obtaining the black coat color allele through crossbreeding programs in which breeds like black Angus were crossed with red Limousin, for example.  With an additional 6 – 7 generations of back crossing to Limousin, we could ultimately create a purebred black Limousin, in a breed that was not historically black. With gene editing, this can be achieved in a single generation. As we understand genetics more fully in the future, and can isolate favorable allelic DNA affecting traits, gene editing will allow us to move this DNA, from animal to animal, within and across breeds.

Another example in livestock,  would be to use gene editing coupled with cloning technology, allowing one to correct a lethal genetic birth defect allele, in a high value animal (genetic defect carrier).  The process would use a cell line from the carrier animal.  The genetic lethal allele is corrected in the cell line using gene editing technology.  The corrected cell line is then used to produce a copy of the high value animal that is free of the genetic lethal allele.  All subsequent progeny would be non-carriers”.

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By: Diane

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