Since CRISPR’S discovery, scientists around the world have been finding new ways to apply gene editing to plants and animals. Here are some of the developments Doudna tracks in A Crack in Creation.
Researchers at South Carolina’s Clemson University are employing CRISPR to create citrus trees that are resistant to a disease known as Huanglongbing, or citrus greening, which has devastated the country’s industry over the past decade.
Using a gene-editing tool called TALEN, Minneapolisbased Calyxt has developed soybeans with “an overall fat profile similar to that of olive oil,” Doudna writes. The company plans to launch commercial soybean oil next year.
The University of Missouri has bred pigs that are resistant to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome. “The virus costs U.S. pork producers more than $500 million annually,” Doudna writes, “and reduces production by 15%.”
Chinese scientists have applied CRISPR to suppress the gene that controls hair growth in Shanbei goats, prized for their cashmere wool. The enhanced goats produce a third more fur than their counterparts.
Researchers in China are harnessing CRISPR to create monkeys that mimic human conditions and diseases, from muscular dystrophy to cancer, which would allow “scientists to hunt for disease cures without endangering human lives,” Doudna writes.
A team in Australia is exploring ways to rewrite the chicken genome to eliminate the proteins that cause egg allergies in humans. The new eggs could be used in foods and vaccines.