At CB Insights we do a hackathon every quarter where employees have 24 hours to build whatever they want. You can see some of the past projects here fueled by pizza and coffee at inappropriately late hours.
For this past hack day I built a rudimentary scraper in Google Sheets to show the number of mentions of terms in preprint repositories bioRXiv and arXiv. You can see, for example, that CRISPR papers and projects have been on a tear, more so than any other gene-editing technique (for now).
To me, preprint papers are where the community of creators are showcasing their projects and playing with new tools. The tools improve, iterate, and find new use cases as more people tinker with them. As more papers come out about the potential and limitations of CRISPR, we’ll likely see this research community at the front lines finding ways to improve the tool.
For example, here’s a very cool recent paper that demonstrates that mutations created by using the Cas9 protein are predictable based on the surrounding DNA sequence at the target location. The mutations are also highly reproducible. This is very important – if we want to develop therapies with these tools, we need to know with a high degree of confidence that a guide RNA is going to consistently do what we want it to do.
If this sounds like jargon to you, it might be a good time to refresh yourself with our What is CRISPR brief.
Researchers are also looking at other areas where CRISPR could potentially change things up. We looked at 15 big industries that CRISPR might have an impact on including breweries, conservation efforts, fertility, and more. See them here.
A journey of cell-f discovery
CRISPR is one tool that’s probably going to enable new types of therapies as well as help discover new ones by letting us test genotype-phenotype relationships.
Another is probably going to be AI. Companies are betting they can find new therapies is by using AI sort through massive amounts of data. For clients, we took a look at 15 AI + drug discovery companies, their partnerships, and target diseases. Clients can see it here.