The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MITThe David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

National Cancer Institute Cancer Center

Science + Engineering... Conquering Cancer Together

Bhatia Lab Helps CRISPR See the Light

Researchers in the laboratory of KI faculty member Sangeeta Bhatia have developed a new way to target cells for gene editing, using ultraviolet light. By creating customizable, light-sensitive DNA “protectors,” the team can turn the RNA “guides” that work within the popular CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing system to target individual sections of the genome, into switches that turn on and off the genes of interest. This modularized approach offers greater control over the system, allowing researchers to more precisely study genetic drivers of development and disease, and could provide a new strategy for turning off cancer-causing genes within tumor cells.

The work, led by postdoc Piyush Jain, has been covered by multiple news outlets, including TED Blog, Futurism, The Longevity Reporter, TSS, OncoTherapy Network, and (in Chinese).