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Jackson Lab Wins $3.2M NIH Grant to Develop Epigenome Modification Tech

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The Jackson Laboratory has been awarded a $3.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop an epigenome modification technology for studying gene regulation in biological processes and disease states.

With the five-year grant, Jackson Lab researcher Albert Cheng and his colleagues are aiming to create a molecular toolkit that allows for the precise and reversible manipulation of epigenetic modifications at defined places in the genome. Underlying the toolkit will be a novel CRISPR-Cas9 system — called Casilio — that Cheng helped build, and which can be used to modulate gene regulation, epigenetic editing, and chromosomal labeling at multiple genomic locations simultaneously.

The Jackson Lab team plans to engineer the Casilio system into cell lines including stem cells, and ultimately generate genome-wide Casilio libraries targeting genomic regulatory elements that can be used in reverse epigenetic screens to discover elements and epigenetic modifications linked to specific phenotypes.

"This toolkit, once developed, will transform the ways we study epigenetics by providing a fine and scalable technique to directly edit epigenetic states at defined targets, to investigate the underlying causes of gene regulatory changes observed in biological processes and diseases," according to the grant's abstract.

The grant began on Jan. 1 and runs until the end of 2022.

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