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CRISPR

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The Boston Globe

Prof. Kevin Esvelt writes for The Boston Globe about the need for transparency surrounding gene-editing research. “We should establish transparent, publicly accessible standards to help determine whether, when, and how research that could impact everyone should proceed,” Esvelt explains.

WBUR

A CRISPR-based diagnostic test for Covid-19 developed by researchers from MIT and the Broad Institute could produce results within an hour, reports Deborah Becker for WBUR. "Using these technologies will really allow for much more rapid testing — down from days to sometimes less than an hour," said McGovern fellow Jonathan Gootenberg. "That would enable a drastic change in how the tracing and handling of the pandemic is done."

Forbes

A new center established at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research is aimed at accelerating the development of novel therapies and technologies, writes Katie Jennings for Forbes. The hope is that “we can identify common pathways, either a common molecular pathway that's a chokepoint for a therapy or a common group of neurons or neural systems,” says Prof. Robert DeSimone, director of the McGovern Institute.

The Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Felice Freyer writes about the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Center for Molecular Therapeutics in Neuroscience, which was established at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research thanks to a $28 million gift from philanthropist Lisa Yang and MIT alumnus Hock Tan ’75. “The center will develop tools to precisely target the malfunctioning genes and neurons underpinning brain disorders,” writes Freyer.

WBUR

WBUR’s Carey Goldberg explores how MIT researchers developed a new CRISPR-based research tool that can be used to detect Covid-19. "A lot of things that we try fail," says research scientist Jonathan Gootenberg. "And that’s OK. Because sometimes you find these things that are really, really awesome."

WBUR

Reporting for WBUR, Carey Goldberg highlights how MIT researchers have developed a new RNA editing tool that could be used to tweak a gene that raises the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. As the effects of RNA editing are not permanent, “it's almost like a small, pill-like version of gene therapy,” explains research scientist and McGovern Fellow Omar Abudayyeh.

Axios

Axios reporter Eileen Drage O’Reilly highlights how Prof. Feng Zhang and his colleagues have developed a new system that uses “jumping genes” to improve the accuracy of gene editing. “This is filling a gap we couldn't address before, to be able to insert DNA into the genome," says Zhang of the ability to insert large genomes in a directed way.

Xinhuanet

Researchers from MIT and other institutions have developed a new model for autism research that could enable new therapies and treatments, reports the Xinhua news agency. The model could “provide a basis for a deeper understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms of autism and the development of more transformative therapeutics.”

Stat

STAT reporter Sharon Begley writes that Prof. Feng Zhang and his colleagues have turned “a jumping gene — aka a transposon, or mobile genetic element — into a mini TaskRabbit gig worker: With an assist from CRISPR enzymes, it zips over to the part of the genome whose address it is given and delivers a package of DNA, pronto.”

Time Magazine

TIME reporter Alice Park writes that in a Nature commentary, an international group of scientists has called for a temporary ban on studies using gene-editing on human embryos. “Our question is, how should nations make decisions about technologies like gene editing going forward?” says Prof. Eric Lander, director of the Broad Institute and one of the authors of the commentary.

Associated Press

Associated Press reporter Malcom Ritter writes that an international team of scientists – including a number of MIT researchers – has called for a moratorium on making babies with genetically engineered DNA. “The moratorium would allow time for discussion of technical, scientific, societal and ethical issues that must be considered,” explains Ritter.

Financial Times

Financial Times reporter Hannah Kuchler writes that researchers from MIT and a number of other institutions have called for a moratorium on editing inheritable human genes. Kuchler writes that the researchers called for the establishment of “an international framework on the conditions in which such editing could be allowed.”

Axios

MIT researchers developed a new technique to make a more effective and precise CRISPR gene editing system, reports Eileen Drage O’Reilly for Axios. The system uses the new enzyme Cas12b, which has a “small size and precise targeting [that] will enable it to be used for in vivo applications in primary human cells,” O’Reilly explains.

Stat

In an article for STAT, Prof. Kevin Esvelt argues that non-profits should be the only entities allowed to develop and use new genome editing technologies. Esvelt writes that when it comes to controversial new technologies like gene drive, “keeping early applications in the nonprofit realm could help us make wiser decisions about whether, when, and how to move forward.”

Yahoo News

Yahoo! reporter Elise Solé highlights how Alejandra Falla successfully completed her PhD studies at MIT while pregnant with her daughter, Clara. Clara sported a miniature MIT regalia to Commencement. “It started as a joke but we decided that Clara had earned her Ph.D. in the womb,” says Falla. “She deserved to graduate with me.”