MilliporeSigma Increases the Efficiency of Gene Editing

New CRISPR technology accelerates drug development.

A new technique referred to by developer MilliporeSigma as "proxy-CRISPR is “more efficient, flexible and specific” than existing CRISPR gene editing technology and as a result will accelerate drug development.

The proxy-CRISPR technique, for which MilliporeSigma has filed numerous patent applications, uses bacterial CRISPR systems that can function in human cells without requiring labor-intensive re-engineering of their native CRISPR proteins.

Gene editing using CRISPR (or Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) technology has become increasingly important in the development of next-generation therapies for cancer and other chronic diseases that have not been adequately treated to date. With this technology, DNA is snipped using the enzyme Cas9. This enzyme can only target certain locations on DNA strands, however.

Proxy-CRISPR technology was developed by MilliporeSigma to overcome this limitation. MilliporeSigma has been involved in genome editing for the last 14 years and, according to the company, was the first to offer custom biomolecules for genome editing on a global basis in the form of its TargeTron™ biomolecules and zinc finger nucleases. It was also the first to produce arrayed CRISPR libraries covering the entire human genome. The Scientist recognized MilliporeSigma’s CRISPR Epigenetic Activator (p300-Cas9) technology, which enables exploration of epigenetic modification and associated diseases, as one of the Top 10 Innovations in 2015.

Since 2016, a research group at MilliporeSigma has been dedicated to advancing research in gene editing and supporting the development of gene- and cell-based therapies and viral vectors. Currently, the team is working on another suite of gene editing tools that includes the modified versions of Cas and Cas-like proteins, which will be launched later in 2017.

"With more flexible and easy-to-use genome editing technologies, there is greater potential in research, bioprocessing and novel treatment modalities," said Udit Batra, CEO, MilliporeSigma. "As a leader in genome editing, MilliporeSigma's new technology is just one example of our commitment to solving challenges in the genome editing field, and we will continue to make CRISPR research a priority."

The work was published in the April 7, 2017, edition of Nature Communications.

MilliporeSigma is the life science business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany within the U.S. and Canada. The $17 billion acquisition of Sigma-Aldrich by Merck KGaA was completed in November 2015.


Above: MilliporeSigma has developed an alternative CRISPR genome editing method that advances new possibilities for research, creating a way to rapidly deploy newly discovered bacterial CRISPR systems in disease-specific applications.

Nigel Walker

Mr. Walker is the founder and managing director of That’s Nice LLC, a research-driven marketing agency with 20 years dedicated to life sciences. Nigel harnesses the strategic capabilities of Nice Insight, the research arm of That’s Nice, to help companies communicate science-based visions to grow their businesses. Mr. Walker earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic design with honors from London College.