Life Sciences

How to correct DNA mutations with the CRISPR-CAS9 method

CRISPR-Cas9: inspiration came from bacteria

CRISPR stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats. Quite a name for a system that recognizes the DNA of a foreign virus that’s attacking the body. To resist this virus, Cas9 gets to work: DNA scissors that find the virus in the right place and cuts it into pieces to dismantle it.

The fascinating thing about this defense mechanism is that it was discovered in bacteria.

Since a few years, this procedure is used in the laboratory. It could for example help us with the development of new medications,” Ellen Geets tells us.

Technology of the future

“CRISPR-Cas9 allows us to manipulate the DNA of cells,” Uschi Peeters continues. “It allows us to shut off a gene (knock-out), or alter it (knock-in). This is possible in plants and in animals.” The method is since a few years in development and is used in research laboratories all over the world.

From PHD to dream job

Ellen Geets got her PHD in biomedical sciences and started at Janssen Pharmaceutica a few months later. “As bio engineer, you often end up in data management or writing protocols. I absolutely wanted to work in a laboratory. After an interview, AUSY tipped me off that this function was open; I took that chance with both hands and I haven’t regretted it since!”

The logical next step

For Uschi Peeters, the logical new step was also Janssen Pharmaceutica. “AUSY had my resume and saw a match, I had done research in cancer immunology and cardio genetics. I already focused on DNA, and with this research method I could broaden my horizons."

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