Optogenetics, RNA Editing and CRISPR with Dr. Feng Zhang
Dr.Feng Zhang, the award-winning biochemist best known for his central role in developing optogenetics and CRISPR technology, joins ARK analyst Ali Urman on this week’s episode. Listeners will learn about the role of optogenetics in dissecting circuitries in the brain and Feng’s experience of CRISPR. Feng shares some of the biggest hurdles optogenetics has to overcome and tells us where RNA editing could be even more effective than DNA editing. He gives us his predictions on the cost of this kind of technology and medicine, and how it is developing to cover even more genes. We touch on the repertoire of different enzymes, explore diagnostics, and talk about the role of prime editing. You will hear why Feng considers the present to be a golden age for biological research, come to understand his long-term vision for CRISPR’s impact on the world, and much more!
Key Points From This Episode:
- Feng’s definition of optogenetics: a way to be able to dissect circuitries in the brain.
- What CRISPR is and what Feng’s experience of it has been.
- One of the biggest hurdles of optogenetics: targeting different circuitries in the brain.
- How RNA could be even better than DNA editing.
- The expanding toolbox of different proteins that are allowing us to cover more genes.
- How the repertoire of different enzymes could be harnessed and developed for genome editing.
- Feng’s thoughts on how quickly the cost will decline.
- CRISPR’s relationship with diagnostics in terms of specificity and sensitivity.
- How prime editing could be used to change the number of variants.
- How using RNA for base editing could change the capabilities.
- One of the biggest roadblocks to genetic medicine: getting it into the right tissue.
- The challenge posed by regulatory framework.
- How the new methodologies being developed can improve off-target sensitivity.
- Why Feng considers the present to be a golden age for biological research.
- How Feng sees CRISPR affecting the world in the long term.
- Why he is excited about the future of programmable medicine.