How does CancerSEEK compare to other liquid biopsies?

This work[1] blows away previous efforts. The word “breakthrough” is used far too often to describe results that are incremental, or that are promising but not well-supported. CancerSEEK is a genuine breakthrough. The gold standard for cancer diagnosis is the biopsy – a bit of suspect tissue is excised and studied, and determined to be benign Read More …

Can CRISPR technology reduce inequality by eliminating the advantage that attractive people have? Shouldn’t we have that choice?

There’s a good chance that we will never be able to use CRISPR in otherwise healthy human beings. Not safely and ethically, anyway. Let’s assume that all the obvious technical problems are solved – that we learn which genes to modify and how, and that we learn how to deliver CRISPR-Cas complexes safely and efficiently to Read More …

Do we need more broad-spectrum antibiotics? NAD-dependent DNA ligases as drug targets.

These enzymes are excellent targets for antibiotic development. But successful development may end up degrading public health. DNA ligases perform an essential function in all organisms, that of joining broken DNA strands together. From DNA ligation They can use either ATP or NAD+ as energy sources to drive the joining reaction. NAD ligases are never found in Read More …

Will human immunity to Cas9 make CRISPR useless?

This paper shows that a large fraction of humans have antibodies agains Cas9. This is not a surprise. Why? Because Cas9 is a bacterial protein, and its common bacterial sources (Staph and Strep) colonize or infect most humans at some point in their lives. Even though Cas9 is an intracellular protein, lysis of bacterial cells or Read More …

Is CRISPR/Cas9 one of the most important inventions of our time?

Sure. But let’s not get carried away. That “of our time” qualifier is hugely important. We’ve already done most of what is possible to allow humans to live out a natural life span. The invention that enabled this advance was germ theory. Equipped with germ theory – one of the few useful theories in biology Read More …

What is the promise of gene editing?

For society as a whole, not much. One of the unexpected findings of genomics is just how little our genomes matter to disease – particularly for chronic illnesses like heart disease and cancer. Not only are genetic contributions small compared to environmental ones, but their influence is spread out over dozens of genes. Fixing any one of Read More …

Are DNA hard drives and pen drives probable in the near future?

No, and probably not in the long-term future either. DNA is very good at dense information storage (about an exabyte per cubic millimeter) and (potentially) at parallel computation. It is also chemically very stable and could be used for long-term data storage. But reading and writing information from DNA, whether by hybridization reactions or enzymatic Read More …