Project: DIY CRISPR Kits
A molecular biophysicist has just launched a crowdfunding project that will allow you to do CRISPR-based genetic editing at your kitchen table.
Dr. Josiah Zayner, who received his PhD from the University of Chicago where he studied protein engineering, is currently working for NASA, where he is a Research Fellow in NASA’s Synthetic Biology. In his spare time, he has taken to designing and creating kits for people to do the same sort of thing he does. “Budget and funding issues at NASA necessitate that I mostly work alone. I figured there has to be another way where more people can contribute to science,” said Zayner.
CRISPR stands for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.” In layman’s terms, this means that we have found a protein (Cas9) that can use an RNA guide to make highly specific cuts in DNA. Unlike many previous editing and engineering techniques, this one is highly accurate and easy to use. (For a backgrounder on CRISPR, check out http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/11/16/the-gene-hackers.)
“This allows unprecedented abilities to edit and engineer DNA,” Zayner said. “The reason it is such a great synthetic biology tool is the specificity and general applicability. One can target almost any DNA region in almost any organism and the time to do this is an order of magnitude less than before with other genetic engineering techniques.”
Zayner has several kits on offer including a Bacteria DIY CRISPR Kit, a Yeast DIY CRISPR Kit, and some related kits, like creating light-controlled bacteria, and glow-in-the-dark bacteria projects.
If you miss his IndieGoGo project, you can also check out his store at The ODIN.
Photo credit: Mattosaurus, via Wikimedia Commons. e. Coli bacteria.