An international team of biologists urge careful use of technology in research and flag potential biosafety risks.
The use of gene-editing technology to create virus-resistant cassava plants could have serious negative ramifications, according to new research by plant biologists at the University of Alberta, the University of Liege in Belgium, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Their results show that attempts to genetically engineer the plants to fight off viruses, in fact resulted in the propagation of mutated viruses in controlled laboratory conditions.
“We concluded that because this technology both creates a selection pressure on the viruses to evolve more quickly, and also provides the viruses a means to evolve, it resulted in a virus mutant that is resistant to our interventions,” explained Devang Mehta, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biological Sciences. CRISPR-Cas9 is found in nature, where bacteria use it to defend against viruses, however the researchers found that the technology results in very different outcomes in plants—and researchers are stressing the importance of screening against these sorts of unintended results in the future.
The cassava plant, the object of the study, is a starchy root vegetable that is consumed for food throughout the tropics. Cassava is a primary staple crop grown in South America, Africa, and Asia, from which 1 billion people get most of their calories each day. Each year, cassava crops are plagued by cassava mosaic disease, which causes 20 per cent crop loss. It is the mosaic disease that Mehta and his colleagues endeavoured to engineer against.
The researchers used a new gene-editing technology called CRISPR-Cas9 to attempt to design cassava plants that could cut the DNA of the mosaic virus and make the plants resistant to its damaging effects. Unfortunately, their results were not successful. To understand what happened, the team sequenced hundreds of viral genomes found in each plant.
“We discovered that the pressure that CRISPR-Cas9 applied to the virus probably encouraged it to evolve in a way that increased resistance to intervention,” said Mehta. Mehta hastens to add that CRISPR-Cas9 has many other applications in food and agriculture that do not pose the same risks.
The research team is keen to share their results with other scientists who are using CRISPR-Cas9 technology to engineer virus-resistant plants, and encourage these groups to test their plants to detect similar viral mutations.
“We need to do more research on these types of applications of CRISPR-Cas9 technology before we proceed with field testing” said Mehta. Mehta, a postdoctoral fellow with Professor Glen Uhrig, began this research during his PhD studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich.
The Latest on: Gene editing caution
via Google News
The Latest on: Gene editing caution
- Study finds eucalyptus can be genetically-modified to become non-invasiveon April 8, 2021 at 10:04 am
Now, an international collaboration led by Oregon State University's Steve Strauss has found the CRISPR Cas9 gene-editing technique can be used to modify a eucalyptus gene referred to as LEAFY, which ...
- Editing Humanity’s Futureon April 8, 2021 at 7:22 am
And second, the technology for making precise changes to the genome is maturing quickly, most notably with the gene editing tool CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats), for ...
- CRISPR Therapeutics to Participate in the 20th Annual Needham Virtual Healthcare Conferenceon April 6, 2021 at 6:20 pm
CRISPR Therapeutics is a leading gene editing company focused on developing transformative gene-based medicines for serious diseases using its proprietary CRISPR/Cas9 platform. CRISPR/Cas9 is a ...
- Intellia Therapeutics Inc (NTLA) EVP, General Counsel Jose E Rivera Sold $4.2 million of Shareson April 4, 2021 at 11:24 pm
Intellia Therapeutics Inc is a gene editing company focused on the development of proprietary, potentially curative therapeutics utilizing a biological tool known as the CRISPR/Cas9 system.
- 'Frankenstein food' row returns as UK urged to lead the way on genetically edited cropson April 4, 2021 at 1:02 am
Tropic Biosciences, a British start-up, is working on gene editing bananas to make the fruit ... decades through traditional breeding but says caution is needed. “It is a huge advantage, but ...
- Biotech bubbles during the global recessionon March 31, 2021 at 5:00 pm
They have raised eyebrows among some investors, who caution about overhyping ... Aavanti is using gene transfer and gene editing capabilities to build scalable, efficiently manufactured gene ...
- In New Gene-Editing World, Doudna Applies Both Brake and Gas Pedalon March 26, 2021 at 5:00 pm
Xconomy: Now that you’ve published a Perspective in Science calling for caution with germline editing, what are the next steps? Any larger groups forming, or any “Asilomar”-type conferences ...
- In ‘Klara and the Sun,’ We Glimpse an Eerie Future Through the Eyes of a Roboton March 24, 2021 at 8:52 am
Technological unemployment, the progress of artificial intelligence, inequality, the safety and ethics of gene editing, increasing loneliness ... out if we don’t approach these technologies with ...
- Criminal defendants still cite a ‘gene for violence.’ It doesn’t exist.on March 18, 2021 at 5:34 pm
The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled last month on an extraordinarily important question: Should a criminal defendant be allowed to argue that a specific gene rendered him unable to control his ...
- Revamp of UK CRISPR regulation will require public truston March 15, 2021 at 5:00 pm
The EU’s continuing caution is in part because of public ... it would be better for such studies on gene editing to be commissioned by a separate body, such as the UK Food Standards Agency ...
via Bing News