Merck collaborates with Jeffrey Gordon and his team, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA, to work on nutritional supplements to restore a healthy gut microbial community (microbiome). The researchers will use Merck’s CRISPR genome-editing technology and aim to determine the differences between gut bacterial communities in healthy and malnourished children and to identify what features of healthy intestinal bacteria are critical for supporting healthy growth. From there, nutritional approaches to restore a normal microbiome can be developed and optimized.
CRISPR-based genomic scissors bring new possibilities in medicine and biotechnology. CRISPR RNA-protein complexes search for certain DNA sequences in a cell, cut them, and allow the cell to paste in new DNA information. In the microbiome project, the CRISPR genome scissors will be used to modify the sequence of DNA in microbes cultured from human gut microbiome samples. The results will help the researchers to understand the microbes’ functions and nutritional needs.
- Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany