The research team led by Emannuelle Charpentier, co-discoverer of the CRISPR/Cas9 system, has found that a new CRISPR system can also cleave RNA. Amazingly simple!
The discovery of the CRISPR/Cas9 system revolutionised Biotechnology, unlocking a kind of ‘Golden age’ for gene editing – with a wide-reaching impact from therapeutics to SynBio.
However, outside of Science’s red carpet bubble, research on CRISPR continues. One of the biggest breakthroughs was that Zhang’s team (at the Broad Institute) described a new protein with similar properties to Cas9.
This ‘second’ cutting protein is Cpf1, which has some key advantages over Cas9. Namely, it is smaller, only requires one RNA strand (instead of two) and targets different sites, opening up a wider range of applications.