Better Editing Through Science (Abstract Science, Oct. 20 - 26)
A possible improvement on CRISPR, lab meat gets an upgrade, and a failed Alzheimer’s drug gets a second chance
(Rob Stein, NPR, 10/21/19)
A new gene editing technique, known as prime editing, may offer advantages for disease treatment over CRISPR editing methods. Prime editing does not require the cell to divide to be edited and can “snip” one strand of a DNA’s double helix without touching the other. Researchers believe that the technique may offer treatment for diseases in cells that don’t divide often, like nerve cells. That would cover diseases like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.
(Leah Burrows, The Harvard Gazette, 10/21/2019)
Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) grew rabbit and cow muscle cells on a gelatin scaffold in order to produce more realistically textured edible meat. Interest in engineered meat has grown in recent years due to concerns over the meat industry’s impact on climate change, but so far no one is marketing a realistic lab-grown meat with a textural complexity comparable to the real thing.
(Meredith Wadman, Kelly Servick, Science, 10/22/19)
Biogen announced that it will seek marketing approval from the FDA for the Alzheimer's drug aducanumab, which was designed to bind to and eliminate beta-amyloid protein from the brain. The company initially thought the drug was a failure based on clinical trials, but after assessing data from a larger trial, they found evidence that the drug did indeed slow cognitive decline in patients who were given a higher dose.
—Stories compiled by Senior Scientific Writer Mary Parker