NYSCF – Robertson Investigator Discovers New Proteins to Edit DNA
As NYSCF – Robertson Investigator Feng Zhang, Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, explained at The NYSCF Conference, “Nature is smarter than us.” Dr. Zhang’s lab works to discover bacterial proteins that can cut DNA at targeted sites in order to create a toolbox of proteins that can edit DNA. Previously, Dr. Zhang pioneered the CRISPR-Cas system which uses RNA that can interact with DNA to guide Cas proteins to specific sites to cut DNA, effectively altering the genome.
In Dr. Zhang’s latest work published in Cell, his laboratory shows another protein, Cpf1, can cleave DNA, and that proteins similar to Cpf1 may also have this capacity. He followed up this publication with a study in Molecular Cell that identifies other proteins that function distinctly from previously identified proteins which can be guided to edit target DNA.
This work expands research’s repertoire of tools to harness, understand and overcome nature. CRISPR gene editing systems are currently in use toward understanding genes and disease, and are also studied for their therapeutic potential.
Read more about Dr. Zhang’s work: