Making genome editing proteins work for us
In the Oakes lab we utilize comprehensive protein engineering to develop CRISPR gene editing tools for research, synthetic biology and medicine.
CRISPR-Cas9 is an RNA-guided DNA endonuclease that can be used to easily and programmably manipulate the genome. CRISPR technology is analogous to word processing software for our DNA. Just as a word processor can be used to find and fix typos, CRISPR can be used to efficiently select genetic mutations that we would like to change. However, when CRISPR is used to alter the genetic code the most common outcome is the random addition or deletion of a few letters. Thus while CRISPR can disrupt genes with these types of small mutations, it is unable to efficiently repair genetic errors.
Our aim is to develop unique genome editing molecules that will enable the tissue and site specific ‘cut’ and ‘paste’ alteration of eukaryotic genomes. The resulting developments will allow researchers and medical professionals to efficiently repair the genome providing cures for genetic diseases.
Furthermore, we are focused on developing next generation genome editing molecules that can sense diverse signals and actuate beneficial outcomes in response. Ultimately our goal is to create smart synthetic CRISPR systems that will act in response to specific stimuli. These first of their kind tools will change the way we can program biology to sense and respond to the environment.