Abstract: Series 114, Lecture 6

The Harvey Lectures Series 114 (2018—2019)

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Lecture #6: Thursday, April 18, 2019 — Watch Video of Lecture

CRISPR-Cas9: Transforming Life Sciences Through Bacteria

Emmanuelle Charpentier, PhD

Emmanuelle Charpentier, PhD

Director for Infection Biology

Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology

Berlin, Germany

Dr Charpentier's Website

The discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology is considered one of the most important biotechnology breakthroughs of our times. Initially described as a bacterial immune system, research in our laboratory identified the components (tracrRNA:crRNA:Cas9) of the CRISPR-Cas9 system and deciphered the mechanisms involved from the maturation of the system to its function as an invading DNA-targeting and cleaving molecular machinery. We ultimately demonstrated that CRISPR-Cas9 works as RNA programmable molecular scissors that can be harnessed as a tool to edit any genetic sequence. Similar to a text editing software, the CRISPR-Cas9 technology can correct typos, delete or exchange letters and sentences in the DNA of living cells. Only six years after our discovery, CRISPR-Cas9 has developed into one of the most dynamic and fastest-moving fields in life sciences. CRISPR-Cas9 is an integral and critical part of the toolbox for any researcher who intends to modify genetic information by means of targeted introduction or correction of mutations, replacement of genes, modification of DNA or modulation of transcription in any cell or organism – and thousands of researchers are further developing the technology into innovative applications in biotechnology, agriculture and medicine. Most certainly, we will witness a lot of new developments to apply CRISPR-Cas9 in our everyday lives in the future.