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Mary Gearing

Mary Gearing is a Scientist at Addgene. She got her start as a Science Communications Intern writing for the Addgene blog and website. As a full-time Addgenie, she still enjoys blogging about CRISPR and other cool plasmids!

Recent Posts

Cpf1 Update: Comparison to Cas9 and NgAgo

Posted by Mary Gearing on Jul 14, 2016 10:30:00 AM

In 2015, Feng Zhang’s lab characterized two Cpf1 nucleases, distant cousins of well-known Cas9. Cpf1 cleaves DNA in a staggered pattern and requires only one RNA rather than the two (tracrRNA and crRNA) needed by Cas9 for cleavage. Now, two new studies show that Cpf1 displays lower off-target editing than Cas9, confirming that this protein is well suited for genome editing. 

Find Cpf1 Plasmids at Addgene

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Topics: Genome Engineering, CRISPR

Comparing Cas9 to NgAgo: Can the Argonautes Best CRISPR?

Posted by Mary Gearing on Jun 9, 2016 10:30:00 AM

THE ORIGINAL NgAgo ARTICLE DISCUSSED IN THIS POST HAS BEEN RETRACTED AND FOLLOW UP STUDIES HAVE FAILED TO REPEAT THE RESULTS DISCUSSED BELOW

Biologists are going gaga over the newest gene-editing protein - a DNA-cleaving Argonaute from Natronobacterium gregoryi, or NgAgo for short. Addgene has already distributed this plasmid all over the world, and the question on everyone’s minds is: could NgAgo replace CRISPR? Such a drastic shift won’t happen overnight, but there are a few reasons why you might choose NgAgo over CRISPR proteins Cas9 or Cpf1 - keep reading to learn more!

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Genome Engineering, CRISPR

Lentiviral Vector Uses and Overview

Posted by Mary Gearing on May 19, 2016 10:30:00 AM


Lentiviral vectors
are one of the most popular and useful viral vectors in the lab. Advantages of lentivirus include a large genetic capacity and the ability to transduce both dividing and non-dividing cells. Lentiviral vectors are the vector of choice for many CRISPR applications, and they’ve also had success in clinical gene therapy applications. Read on to learn more about the current (and future) applications of lentiviral vectors!

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Topics: Viral Vectors

Targeting HIV-1 with CRISPR: Shock and Kill or Cut it Out?

Posted by Mary Gearing on May 10, 2016 10:30:00 AM


Over 25 million people worldwide are currently infected with the
lentivirus HIV-1. Today, HIV-1 can be controlled with antiviral therapies such that the virus is undetectable in the blood. But the virus doesn’t completely disappear; it just hides in latently infected cells. To truly cure HIV-1, researchers need to vanquish these hidden viral reservoirs, and CRISPR may be the way to accomplish this tough job! Kamel Khalili’s lab at Temple University has demonstrated two potential strategies for CRISPR-HIV therapeutics - one using dCas9-SAM to activate HIV-1 transcription and destroy infected cells, the other using wild-type Cas9 to remove the HIV-1 genome from infected cells. Read on to learn how CRISPR can take on HIV-1 in vitro, and what obstacles must be overcome for clinical success.

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Topics: Genome Engineering, CRISPR

CRISPR Antimicrobials

Posted by Mary Gearing on May 3, 2016 10:30:00 AM

The crisis of antibiotic resistance is upon us, and the world is unprepared. Each year in the United States, two million people will be infected by antibiotic resistant bacteria. Even when researchers develop new antibiotics, the onset of resistance is swift, as few as five years after introduction. Current antibiotic strategies are nonspecific - they harm any bacterial cell without a resistance gene, allowing resistant bacteria to multiply, spreading their resistance genes throughout the bacterial population. But what if we could specifically target only virulent or antibiotic resistant bacteria with a weapon that they’ll have less potential to become resistant to? CRISPR may provide a method for doing just that. While challenges remain in the delivery of these agents, CRISPR antimicrobials could become our newest line of defense against bacteria.

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Topics: Genome Engineering, CRISPR

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