Feng Zhang (Credit: MIT McGovern Institute)

Feng Zhang's lat­est gene edit­ing trawl reels in 188 new CRISPR sys­tems

The next wave of gene edit­ing tech­nol­o­gy could come from bac­te­ria liv­ing in Antarc­tic lakes, coal mines or even dog sali­va, and those are just a few of the odd places where sci­en­tists have iden­ti­fied 188 new CRISPR sys­tems that could be re­pur­posed as gene edit­ing ther­a­pies, di­ag­nos­tic sen­sors or re­search tools.

Sci­en­tists are rac­ing to dis­cov­er CRISPR en­zymes or sim­i­lar gene-al­ter­ing nu­cle­as­es that could lead to new and im­proved gene edit­ing tech­niques — or at least new­ly patentable ones. Much like the tax­on­o­mists of yore who vied to dis­cov­er and name new plants and an­i­mals, there’s a strong urge for bi­ol­o­gists to be the first to cat­a­log the nat­ur­al di­ver­si­ty of CRISPR sys­tems.

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