The video of the day is Bring Me A Gene, by A Capella Science, and it’s about one of the most amazing breakthroughs in the science of biology ever: CRISPR/Cas9.
What is CRISPR/Cas9?
It was only discovered in 2015, and it almost sounds like science fiction. It’s the mechanism by which cells, after detecting the presence of viral DNA, disables the virus by destroying the DNA. CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, and there’s an additional component called Cas (Crisper associated proteins) that helps identify which parts can be used to rebuild missing bits of DNA. A variant of that, Cas9, has been created which allows replacing bits of a DNA sequence with other specific bits. In other words, humankind now has the ability to specifically and precisely edit DNA.
That cells are able to do this is amazing, and it’s a completely different self defense mechanism for complex organisms than the bacteriophage method we all learned about in high school. About 40% of the bacteria we’ve sequenced so far appear to have the CRISPR/Cas capability, and about 90% of the archea (single celled organisms). Obviously humans have it too, or the first virus we picked up would wipe out the entire species.
Having discovered it, researchers are now practicing the techniques necessary to edit genomes in living cells. Want a mutation that corrects a genetic disease? It is now becoming possible to repair that genetic damage in a single generation, within a single living host.
Which Brings Us to Our Music Video
Because of course, there is nothing in this world that geeks cannot turn into something fun with a beat that you can dance to, here is A Capella Science’s Bring Me A Dream, sung to the tune of Mr. Sandman. Pause the Krypton Radio stream using the player control at the upper right before watching.
This production by A Capella Science is by far the most technically complex we’ve ever seen them do, and must have taken incredible planning and computing power to complete.
If you’d rather watch a video explaining exactly what CRISPR/CAS9 is and why it’s important, we have that for you too. Here is Bozeman Science‘s explanation, featuring Paul Andersen. He gives you the basics of the discovery of CRISPR/Cas, and how Cas9 was developed that allowed the editing of genomes.
We hope you enjoyed today’s video, got an earful of some great music, and maybe learned something you didn’t know.
And of course, Bring Me A Gene is now a featured song on the Krypton Radio playlist, where it will likely stay forever because it’s so cool.
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