Academic Insight: On the Cutting-Edge of CRISPR

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We spoke to CRISPR experts Robin Ketteler and Lorena Benedetti to find out about their work within CRISPR, insights on where the technique is heading and the field’s exciting developments.

Academic Experts 

Lorena Benedetti

Division of Cancer Studies
King’s College London
& The Francis Crick Institute


Robin Ketteler,

Group Lead MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology
University College London



Lorena: CRISPR Career

Lorena started working with CRISPR around two years ago. She now works in a computational group studying cancer genomes, where CRISPR is used to try to mimic the mutations found in tumour cell lines for different projects. In regards to how CRISPR contributes to understanding human diseases, Lorena notes: “It’s very exciting because now we have a very powerful tool to edit human genomes and basically correct them incase there is somethingwrong that is causing a veryserious disease. I think all the advances on that front arevery exciting.

Robin: CRISPR Career

Robin and his team are using CRISPR for several applications. One to make individual knockouts for genes and cell lines. The other for high content and high throughput screening using CRISPR based libraries. The third application is to use CRISPR to tag endogenous genes with fluorescent proteins. In each, they have made about five or six knockouts in terms of screening. They are testing gRNA libraries and try to see if they can be used in high throughput screening, so they are in the early stage of developing protocols. In terms of GFE tagging, they have generated around a dozen tags, cell lines and are trying to see if that can be detected. Robin notes that the screening has seen many exciting developments with CRISPR at the moment. 

Coming from genomic screening, Robin and his team used siRNA libraries and cDNA libraries and so on. Now CRISPR opens up a whole new field. He added: “It seems to be so much easier to generate a proper knockout, compared to a knockdown, with RNA interference. I think at some point, we should be able to use CRISPR in a similar way, so that it’s very easy to automate, and that’s what is really exciting at the moment. We can do thousands of knockouts in the same time in one experiment.”

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