By chemically tweaking the ends of the DNA to be inserted, the new technique is up to five times more efficient than current approaches. The researchers saw improvements at various genetic locations tested in a human kidney cell line, even seeing 65% insertion at one site where the previous high had been 15%.
Led by chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Huimin Zhao, the researchers published their work in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.
Researchers have found CRISPR to be an efficient tool to turn off, or “knock out,” a gene. However, in human cells, it has not been a very efficient way to insert or “knock in” a gene… Continue reading.
University of Illinois professor Huimin Zhao has received a 2012 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.
Guggenheim Fellowships are awarded annually on the basis of achievement and exceptional promise. Zhao, the Centennial Chair Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is one of 181 distinguished scholars chosen from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants.
Zhao’s research focuses on developing and applying synthetic biology tools to address challenges in human health and in energy. His group works to engineer proteins and pathways for drug discovery and development, gene therapy, and industrial biotechnology and bioenergy. His research also provides greater understanding of the fundamental workings of proteins and metabolic pathways, which could unlock large-scale production of advanced biofuels and platform chemicals as well as medical treatments ranging from new classes of antibiotics to therapeutic regimes for sickle-cell anemia and cystic fibrosis.