A team including one of the scientists credited with harnessing the revolutionary CRISPR/Cas9 system for mammalian genome editing has now identified a different CRISPR system with the potential for even simpler and more precise genome engineering. In a study published online on September 25, 2015 in Cell, Dr. Feng Zhang (photo) and his colleagues at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, together with co-authors Dr. Eugene Koonin at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Aviv Regev of the Broad Institute and the MIT Department of Biology, and Dr. John van der Oost at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, describe the unexpected biological features of this new system and demonstrate that it can be engineered to edit the genomes of human cells. The Cell article is titled “Cpf1 Is a Single RNA-Guided Endonuclease of a Class 2 CRISPR-Cas System.” "This has dramatic potential to advance genetic engineering," said Dr. Eric Lander, Director of the Broad Institute and one of the principal leaders of the human genome project. "The paper not only reveals the function of a previously uncharacterized CRISPR system, but also shows that Cpf1 can be harnessed for human genome editing and has remarkable and powerful features. The Cpf1 system represents a new generation of genome editing technology." Dr. Lander was not involved in the current research. CRISPR sequences were first described in 1987 and their natural biological function was initially described in 2010 and 2011. The application of the CRISPR/Cas9 system for mammalian genome editing was first reported in 2013, by Dr. Zhang and separately by Dr. George Church at Harvard. In the new study, Dr.
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