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Direct cloning method CAPTUREs novel microbial natural products

February 19, 2021

Microorganisms possess natural product biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) that may harbor unique bioactivities for use in drug development and agricultural applications. However, many uncharacterized microbial BGCs remain inaccessible. Researchers at Illinois previously demonstrated a technique using transcription factor decoys to activate large, silent BGCs in bacteria to aid in natural product discovery.


February 19, 2021


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Genome-editing tool TALEN outperforms CRISPR-Cas9 in tightly packed DNA

January 28, 2021

Researchers used single-molecule imaging to compare the genome-editing tools CRISPR-Cas9 and TALEN. Their experiments revealed that TALEN is up to five times more efficient than CRISPR-Cas9 in parts of the genome, called heterochromatin, that are densely packed. Fragile X syndrome, sickle cell anemia, beta-thalassemia and other diseases are the result of genetic defects in the heterochromatin.


January 28, 2021


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CRISPR-induced immune diversification in host-virus populations

October 19, 2020

Just like humans, microbes have equipped themselves with tools to recognize and defend themselves against viral invaders. In a continual evolutionary battle between virus and host, CRISPR-Cas acts as a major driving force of strain diversity in host-virus systems.


October 19, 2020


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New CRISPR base-editing technology slows ALS progression in mice

February 24, 2020

With a new CRISPR gene-editing methodology, scientists from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign inactivated one of the genes responsible for an inherited form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – a debilitating and fatal neurological disease for which there is no cure. The novel treatment slowed disease progression, improved muscle function and extended lifespan in mice with an aggressive form of ALS.


February 24, 2020


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For CRISPR, tweaking DNA fragments yields highest efficiency rates yet

January 2, 2020

University of Illinois researchers achieved the highest reported rates of inserting genes into human cells with the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing system, a necessary step for harnessing CRISPR for clinical gene-therapy applications.

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%.


January 2, 2020


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MAGIC system allows researchers to modulate activity of genes acting in concert

December 16, 2019

Genomic research has unlocked the capability to edit the genomes of living cells; yet so far, the effects of such changes must be examined in isolation. In contrast, the complex traits that are of interest in both fundamental and applied research, such as those related to microbial biofuel production, involve many genes acting in concert. A newly developed system will now allow researchers to fine-tune the activity of multiple genes simultaneously.


December 16, 2019


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NYT Columnist and Author Carl Zimmer to Speak on New Book

February 15, 2019

New York Times columnist and renowned author Carl Zimmer will be giving a lecture on his newest book, titled She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity, on March 7th at 5:30pm at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center. Free and open to all, a reception and book signing will follow the event.


February 15, 2019


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