All Posts

Feldan’s highlights of the Cold Spring Harbor meeting on the CRISPR/Cas9 system

Feldan would like to thank the organizers of the first Cold Spring Harbor meeting about genome engineering and CRISPR/Cas9 system. We have been fortunate to witness scientific history in the making at the famous New York campus last week (September 24-27). The meeting organized by Dr Jennifer Doudna, (University of California, Berkeley/HHMI), Dr Maria Jasin (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, NY) and Dr Jonathan Weissman (UCSF/HHMI) included talks by the most influent researchers of the field (for the list, please click here click here), two poster sessions and a panel discussion on the ethics of human germline genome editing.

Dr Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology (chosen with Dr Doudna by Thomson-Reuters as the potential winner of this year’s chemistry Nobel prize for the discovery of the CRISPR/Cas9 system in bacteria and its application in eukaryotic cells (LINK) opened the meeting with a condensed history of the discovery of Cas9 and the CRISPR system, while Drs J. Doudna and J. Keith Joung closed it with insights into the structure of the Cas9 protein and its unwanted off-target potential, respectively. The most high-profile talks of the event has been given by Dr Feng Zhang (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Editas) who presented a newly discovered Type II CRISPR system called Cpf1, a nuclease smaller than Cas9, that recognizes a different PAM motif, that does not require the presence of a tracrRNA and that leaves sticky ends after its cut (LINK). This novel tool could lead to the extension of the possibilities of the CRISPR method by increasing the flexibility in the choice of the target region and by simplifying the addition of foreign DNA between two aforementioned sticky ends. The paper explaining Zhang’s discovery has been published in Cell and is now available (LINK)

In all, the quality of this Cold Spring Harbor meeting entitled “Genome Engineering: The CRISPR/Cas revolution” cemented the importance of this technology as an integral part of today’s research in molecular biology. This conference also outlined the place that genome editing could capture in tomorrow’s field of cell therapy.

The poster presented at the Cold Spring Harbor meeting by Feldan will be available shortly on our website.