Using RNA interference (RNAi) to knock down gene expression is one of the staples of life science research. It’s used in many cellular models, primarily as a tool for assessing the involvement of specific genes in biological systems. However, it wasn’t until recently that this technology was successfully adapted for humans to treat disease.
Canada has recently passed new legislation legalizing cannabis throughout the country. Lineups at government-regulated stores were seen all over the country, with people eagerly awaiting legally sold marijuana for the first time ever in Canada. The demand is high, with many shops around Canada quickly selling out of many popular products on day 1. As the market is set to explode, the Canadian government has begun to invest heavily towards cannabis research, with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research funding around $20 million worth of projects within the last 5 years and ready to dole out another $3 million in the next few months.
CRISPR/Cas9, originally discovered in 1987 by a team of Japanese scientists and later refined by Jennifer Doudna in 2012, is a gene-editing tool that can cut and paste any genomic sequence, either in vitro or in vivo. It’s a system that relies on clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) to recognize foreign DNA and is mainly used in bacteria to fight off viral infection. This tool has garnered a lot of attention recently as researchers have tailored CRISPR/Cas9 to edit animal genomes in ways that were previously impossible or inefficient, revolutionizing genetic and biomedical research. CRISPR/Cas9 has become a crucial resource for labs who require stable cell lines or mice with knockouts, knock-ins, or gene mutations, able to drive constitutive gene activation or to edit micro-RNA and long-noncoding RNA.