Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Researchers at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine have developed a new platform based on CRISPR/Cas9 technology, to alter the way human cells respond to external signals.

Cells are constantly monitoring the environment around them and are programmed to respond to molecular cues in their surroundings in distinct ways – some cues may prompt cells to grow, some lead to cell movement and others initiate cell death. For a cell to remain healthy, these responses must be finely balanced. It took evolution over two billion years to tune these responses and orchestrate their interplay in each and every human cell. But what if we could alter the way our cells respond to certain aspects of their environment? Or make them react to signals that wouldn’t normally provoke a reaction? New research published by scientists at the MRC WIMM takes cellular engineering to the next level in order to achieve just that.

In a paper published in Cell Reports, graduate student Toni Baeumler and Associate Professor Tudor Fulga (Radcliffe Department of Medicine) have used a derivative of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology to rewire the way cells respond to extracellular signals. CRISPR/Cas9 frequently makes the headlines as it allows medical researchers to accurately manipulate the human genome – opening up new possibilities for treating diseases. These studies often focus on correcting faulty genes in crops, livestock, mammalian embryos or cells in a dish. However, not all diseases are caused by a defined error in the DNA. In more complex disorders like diabetes and cancer, it may be necessary to completely rewire the way in which cells work.

Read more on the Oxford Science Blog.

Similar stories

Spin-out company Alethiomics launches

The enterprise will focus on developing targeted therapies for a specific family of blood cancers.

Interview with Excellence Award winner Dr Susan Shapiro

A member of the Oxford Centre For Haematology, Dr Shapiro, was recently interviewed by the Royal College of Pathologists.

Iron integral to the development of life on Earth – and the possibility of life on other planets

A collaboration between researchers at the MRC WIMM and Department of Earth Sciences uncovers the importance of iron for the development of complex life on Earth.

Strong cytotoxic T cell responses to an internal viral component are associated with mild COVID-19 disease

Study from the Dong Group reveals key differences in the adaptive immune responses of patients with mild vs. severe COVID-19, highlighting a potential new vaccine target.

New model for infant leukaemia announced

The breakthrough could lead to development of new treatments for infant Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.