A powerful new genome editing technology being trialled by the PREDICT consortium

The emergence of CRISPR, a new technique adapted from a bacterial immunity system to perform rapid and highly targeted genome modifications in mammalian genomes, is taking the research world by storm.  Based on an RNA-guided nuclease called Cas9, any location in the genome can now be targeted for deletion or modification when co-transfected with a simple user-defined 20mer RNA oligo ‘co-factor’ that has homology to the gene or genomic region of interest.  The ease in which this bacterial nuclease can be programed to target specific genomic loci promises to transform the pursuit of understanding how genes function and importantly, how their loss in cancer causes normal cells to become tumorigenic.

The PREDICT consortium was quick to recognize the power of this new technology to model renal cancer genetics and is at the forefront in applying this technique in the real-world, where tissue-specific cell models are often more challenging than those ‘work-horse’ cell-lines used to first demonstrate the system’s feasibility.  Horizon Discovery has been trialling this technique within the PREDICT consortium to try and increase the success rate and throughput of targeted gene ‘knock-outs’ in hard to handle renal cancer models.  With some tweaks to previously published protocols, Horizon has now been able to achieve its first targeted gene KO (PBRM1) where previous techniques had failed.

The aim in 2014 will be to knock-out several other candidate genes that are being defined other members of the PREDICT consortium to be involved in renal cancer.

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