The Center for Genome Engineering (CGE) is made up of faculty who share a common interest in developing methods for modifying DNA in living cells. Applications of CGE technology range from enabling gene discovery, to making better plants and animals for agriculture, to regenerative medicine, and to providing therapeutic strategies to correct mutations underlying genetic disease. CGE is recognized worldwide for its expertise in genome engineering with seminal contributions to this field.
Recent breakthroughs include:
- The use of Sleeping Beauty as a means of DNA delivery was licensed by Intrexon to develop novel CAR T cell therapies.
- Two CGE faculty members, Brandon Moriarity and David Largaespada, used Sleeping Beauty as a mutagen to identify genes and pathways driving osteosarcoma development and metastasis, which has led to an IND application by Dr. Emily Greengard for a new antibody based sarcoma therapy.
- The TALEN technology, licensed by a French biotechnology company, was used to create a cancer immunotherapy; the first in-patient success was reported in late 2015: complete cancer remission in an infant who was otherwise incurable.
- Recombinetics, a start-up company involving a former and several current CGE faculty member, used the UMN’s TALEN technology to create new breeds of dairy cattle and pig models of human disease.
- Two CGE faculty started a new Minneapolis based biotechnology company called B-MoGen, which provides expertise in human cell gene targeting and clinically relevant non-viral gene delivery methods.
- The first crop plants with new traits created by TALENs were planted last summer in mid-western fields
- CGE faculty members, Scott Dehm and Dan Voytas, used TALENs to dissect the role of genome rearrangements and androgen independence in prostate cancer.
- Founding CGE member Scott McIvor performed pioneering work on the use of zinc-finger nucleases and homologous recombination in vivo to correct a genetic disease in mice and this approach was recently tried in a human patient for the first time.
- A new mechanism of MYC regulation was discovered by CGE faculty members, Anindya Bagchi, David Largaespada and Branden Moriarity, through the use of chromosome engineering.
- CGE faculty member, Reuben Harris, was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator for his work on mutagenic cytidine deaminases, studying specifically their roles in cancer and restricting the spread of the AIDS virus.
- The mechanism of gene targeting using nucleases and rAVV in human cells was elucidated by CGE faculty member Eric Hendrickson.
Collectively, CGE faculty advance the research and clinical objectives of the UMN’s medical enterprise, including our understanding of biological processes and ways to successfully modify living cells for many applications. Indeed, CGE technologies are used by investigators around the world for basic and applied biological research.