Program Topics for 2016-2017 conference are:
iPS and CRISPR
This year’s conference will focus on two discoveries in the past decade which together have changed the world of medical genetics: iPS and CRISPR.
The program will begin with an overview of human embryology and gametogenesis with particular emphasis on pluripotent and multipotent stem cells and their origins….embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells in the developing embryo. Stem cells, under the influence of specific sets of signals, have the ability to produce all ~220 types of differentiated cells in the developing fetus. The discovery of these signals led to the possibility of a medical ‘DREAM:’ One day being able to produce any specific type of human cell in the laboratory!
A world changing discovery by Sashima Yamanaka of Kyoto, Japan, in 2007, made that ‘DREAM’ one step closer to reality when he developed a technology to produce human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) in a petri dish using human skin fibroblast cells. Now that we had a ready source of stem cells, we just need to identify the signals needed to differentiate them into any type of human cell we need. Possible uses of this technology include: production of new brain cells for Parkinson Disease patients; new pancreatic insulin cells for Type I Diabetics; new oligodendrocytes for those with Multiple Sclerosis… and many, many more!
In 2012, Jennifer Doudna of University of California at Berkley and Emmanuelle Carpentier of Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris reported a new technique for editing any organism’s genome with a molecule found in bacteria. This molecule is called CRISPR-Cas9 or CRISPR for short. This discovery led to a relatively simple way to modify edit any genome! We can now use this molecule to remove a harmful gene and, in some cases, replace it with a normal gene—actually modifying a genome!
In addition to the biologic and medical applications we will also consider the ethical issues raised by this work.
We will complete our conference by looking at many of the applications of iPS stem cell technology, applications of CRISPR technology and iPS/CRISPR combined possibilities!