On 25 September 2015, a study published in the Cell journal and supervised by biologist, Feng Zhang (Broad Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts),highlighted the discovery of a protein called Cpf1, which could exceed the limits of CRISPR-Cas9. CRISPR-Cas9 is a tool that modifies genomes. It can be used on simple organisms as well as on human embryos (cf Gènéthique du 24 avril 2015 et du 10 septembre 2015).
The CRISPR-Cas9 technique has “revolutionised genetic research” and is generating equal amounts of hope and trepidation in the scientific community (cf Gènéthique du 27 avril 2015 et du 4 septembre 2015 ).
After having announced the discovery of a smaller version of the Cas9 protein in some bacteria in April, the Zhang team highlighted another protein, Cpf1, associated with CRISPR. Like Cas9, Cpf1 can cut DNA strands with, however, a few differences, thus making them superior.
To put it more simply, Cpf1 “is paving the way for things we never imagined could be possible,”announced epigeneticist, Luca Magnani at Imperial College London. Is this new enzyme more popular than Cas9? “It’s still too early to say,”reported Zhang, cautiously. He plans to continue his research to develop new methods of “genome editing”.