Week in Review: August 1–5

More-precise CRISPR; progress toward a Zika vaccine; NIH reconsiders human-animal chimera research funding; large sample size powers genetics study on depression

Aug 5, 2016
Tracy Vence

Precision CRISPR

Scientists at Kobe University in Japan have created a modified CRISPR/Cas9–based gene-editing tool that uses, among other things, a sea lamprey enzyme to avoid the need for deleterious double-strand breaks in the target DNA. Their work was published in Science this week (August 4).

In April, researchers at Harvard University reported on their generation of another modified CRISPR gene-editing tool that also requires no cutting.

“During double-stranded break repair, many things are going on at once and sometimes nucleotides are deleted and inserted or mutated in a way that is out of our control,” Akihiko Kondo of Kobe University, a coauthor on the present study, told The Scientist.

Zika vaccine progress

Just after the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced its initiation of a human safety trial for a Zika vaccine, a team led by researchers at Harvard University reported on the efficacy of three different vaccines in a nonhuman primate model. All three protected Rhesus macaques from viral infection, the team reported in Science.

“They all seem to work, which is encouraging because it probably means in vivo it’s fairly easy to get protection against Zika,” James Crowe, an immunologist and infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, who was not involved in the work, told The Scientist.

More news in life science

Nobel Laureate Dies
Chemist Ahmed Zewail, the “father of femtochemistry,” has passed away at age 70.

NIH Reveals Plan to Fund Human-Animal Chimeras
The public gets to weigh in before the US government lifts its ban on such research.

NIMH Names New Director
Joshua Gordon of Columbia University Medical Center will lead the National Institute of Mental Health.

Pooling Consumer Genetic Data, Researchers ID Links to Depression
Access to data from thousands of genotyping customers helped scientists detect novel associations with the disorder across the genome.

Theranos CEO Presents New Device
The troubled firm’s medical conference appearance didn’t deliver the evidence many hoped for.