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On the Horizon

Leading news, knowledge, and industry trends in genetic research

Essential genes are defined as genes that are critical for the survival of an organism. These are considered to be genes that are absolutely required for the cell to grown, proliferate and survive. Deletion of an essential gene from a cell eventually leads to the death of this cell or a severe proliferation defect. As a consequence, it is impossible to generate cells with a knock-out or deletion of essential genes.

A revolution is under way in functional genomics which is spearheaded by the CRISPR-Cas9 system and its application to pooled genetic screening. Remarkable new tools, made possible by dCas9, are coming to fruition that will allow for a new kind of interrogation of gene function, allowing us to ask more sophisticated questions about the biology of drug targets.

Cancer fusion genes are hybrid genes that produce abnormal proteins believed to catalyze further cancer growth and increase invasiveness. Here we highlight novel research using CRISPR gene editing to specifically target cancer fusion genes, which could offer many potential therapeutic applications.