Janice Chen is the co-founder and Chief Research Officer at Mammoth Biosciences, a biotechnology company harnessing a revolutionary gene-editing tool called CRISPR - used for rapid and affordable disease detection. During her time as a graduate student under CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna, Chen studied how DNA-cutting CRISPR proteins recognize and cut their target, thus enabling more precise gene-editing tools. This investigation also revealed that some DNA-targeting CRISPR proteins have ideal properties for nucleic acid detection, which evolved into a programmable DNA detection technology called DETECTR that Chen co-created. Chen sees the enormous potential in new diagnostic tools developed out of CRISPR biology, from identifying bacterial and viral infections to early cancer detection.
Over the past few years, CRISPR has revolutionized the life sciences. Engineered to generate targeted DNA breaks, various DNA changes can be introduced in living organisms which offer the opportunity to treat a plethora of inherited diseases. The ongoing expansions of the CRISPR toolbox supports new applications across various domains of research and medicine. This session intends to provide an informative summary of latest breakthroughs with a focus on recent achievements and potential utility at the clinical setting. The discussion will also include challenges and needs to fully appreciate the potential of this technology.