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2024-06-11| R&DSpecial

New CRISPR Method Enables Gene Edits in Cockroaches and All Insects

by Diana Shih
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Researchers use CRISPR to edit genes in cockroaches

Researchers have successfully used CRISPR technology to edit cockroach genes, marking a significant advancement in genetic research. Published in Cell Reports Methods, the study introduces the “direct parental” CRISPR (DIPA-CRISPR) technique, developed by Professor Takaaki Daimon and graduate student Yu Shirai of Kyoto University, in collaboration with the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Spain.

This method simplifies genetic modifications in insects by injecting Cas9 ribonucleoproteins and guide RNA into the hemolymph of mother cockroaches. The technique is potentially applicable to all insect species, broadening their use in research and industry.

Related article: Groundbreaking CRISPR/Cas9-based Genome Editing Therapy Secured the Second FDA Approval

In this study, the researchers addressed the limitations of traditional genome editing methods that rely on embryo injection, which requires specialized equipment and skills. DIPA-CRISPR bypasses these challenges by allowing gene edits through adult injection.

The research team aimed to simplify and enhance gene editing in cockroaches by injecting CRISPR/Cas9 into adult females during the yolk formation stage. Initially, only 2% of the larvae showed successful gene edits. However, by refining the timing and conditions of the injections, they increased the efficiency to 22.5%. The most critical factor for success was the stage of the adult females injected. This led to the creation of the world’s first gene knockout cockroach strain.

Takaaki Daimon, a geneticist at Kyoto University and co-author of the study, told The Scientist, “We aimed to develop a genome editing method that anyone can use and that is very easy and inexpensive.”

The DIPA-CRISPR method’s simplicity and accessibility could revolutionize gene editing in a wide variety of insects, including those important in agriculture and medicine. For biotech and pharmaceutical companies, this breakthrough offers new opportunities in pest control, disease vector management, and bioengineering. Agricultural biotech and genetic research companies can leverage these findings to develop innovative solutions for global challenges.

Related article: Profluent Achieves Human Genome Editing Milestone Using OpenCRISPR-1: The First AI-Generated, Open-Source Gene Editor

Science Japan emphasized the versatility of DIPA-CRISPR, noting that it could be applied to any insect species. The method’s simplicity and efficiency make it accessible to a wide range of laboratories, potentially transforming insect gene editing practices. 

VICE highlighted the broader implications of this research in their article “Scientists Use Gene Editing to Create Mutant Cockroaches in Breakthrough.” The edited genes were passed on to subsequent generations, indicating the potential for long-term genetic studies. This technique could revolutionize genetic research in other insect species as well.

This study showcases the expanding capabilities of CRISPR technology and its potential applications across various industries. As research progresses, the techniques developed could revolutionize genetic engineering, offering new solutions and innovations for global challenges.

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