Genome Editing by CRISPR-CAS9: Turning a Bacterial Trick into a Biotechnology Revolution

Our 2018 programme continues on Thursday 22 March with our rescheduled, fascinating insight into the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology with Prof Bernard Hallet from the Universite Catholique de Louvain in his talk: 'Genome Editing by CRISPR-CAS9: Turning a Bacterial Trick into a Biotechnology Revolution”.

The development of targeted genome editing systems and their applications has moved forward enormously in the last decade. However, in the last five years it has undergone a quantum leap with the introduction of CRISPR-Cas9, the bacterial immune system which can be used to edit genomes on demand. It was a serendipitous discovery that bacteria contained DNA sequences which were repeated, and interspersed with unique sequences known as CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), and these unique sequences were latterly identified as viral DNA, derived from viruses that had previously infected the bacteria.

It was then found that close to the CRISPR sequences, genes were located coding for CRISPR-associated proteins (Cas), which have nuclease activity. Together with small guide RNAs (crRNAs) which have been transcribed from the CRISPR locus, one or more Cas proteins form ribonucleoprotein targeting complexes, with each contain a single guide sequence. The Cas nuclease (usually Cas9) then cleaves the target DNA, marked for degradation by base-pairing with the crRNA.

In 2012, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna proposed that the CRISPR-Cas9 system could be used for programmable gene editing, an idea that has since been further developed by many research groups for potential applications ranging from creating smart model systems for fundamental protein research to enabling bio-engineers to modify crops and farm animals, and translational scientists to develop novel treatment approaches for inherited and acquired disorders for which curative treatment options are not currently available.

This fabulous CRISPR-Cas9 story provides the perfect example of how basic bacterial research has moved the whole scientific community towards the next biotechnological revolution.

Genome Editing by CRISPR-CAS9:
Turning a Bacterial Trick into a Biotechnology Revolution
Prof Bernard Hallet, Life Science Institute (ISV) at UCLouvain
19h30 for 19h45 start, Thursday 22 March 2018
British School of Brussels
Pater Dupierreuxlaan 1, 3080 Tervuren

Prof Bernard Hallet is Vice-chairman of the Life Science Institute (ISV) at the Universite Catholique de Louvain (UCL). From 2002-2010 he was Chairman of the Genetics Unit at UCL and has been a full-time lecturer at UCL since 2006. Following a Masters degree in Biology, Prof Hallet was awarded his PhD at UCL in 1993. This was followed by post doctoral research at Oxford University. He returned to Belgium in 1998 as a senior Research fellow at the ‘Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique’ (FNRS) becoming a Senior Research Associate at FRNS in 2001. His research interest encompass specialised DNA recombination and DNA transposition in bacteria, genome plasticity, cell wall biosynthesis and the bacterial cell cycle, and most recently DNA repair and recombination in radio-tolerant bdelloid rotifers.

This event, which will carry the normal EUR 5 contribution to refreshments (bona fide students free), will take place at the British School of Brussels. As usual light refreshments will be available after the presentation to allow time for networking and further discussions.

Please note that security procedures in place at BSB require all attendees to register in advance and you will need to show valid personal ID (Belgian ID card, Passport or equivalent) to gain access to the BSB site.

To reserve your seat(s), or to obtain more information, please contact the RSC Belgium section secretary via email: For further information on future RSC Belgium and other events, please visit our forthcoming events page on the RSC Belgium blog. And, of course, please forward this message to anyone who may be interested in attending this exciting event.

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