Mining Bacteria for Tools
Omar Abudayyeh works on novel genome editing and gene delivery tools, and applying these tools towards the study of aging. While CRISPR is perhaps best known as a DNA editing tool, Abudayyeh’s team has discovered new CRISPR enzymes, such as the RNA-targeting CRISPR-Cas13, and adapted these enzymes for novel technologies, such as a simple and inexpensive tool to detect human disease. This technology, called SHERLOCK, can detect viruses, bacteria – even genetic signatures associated with cancer – in virtually any location. Abudayyeh and McGovern Fellow Jonathan Gootenberg continue to mine bacterial systems for new technologies to better enable gene therapy as well as applying these technologies towards studying mechanisms of aging.
Using next-generation single-cell sequencing and novel tools for perturbing cell states, Dr. Abudayyeh is determining, with unprecedented resolution, the cell types that arise in the aging brain and how mechanisms, such as senescence, drive detrimental processes in tissues. The ultimate goal is to use this information for building a detailed roadmap of aging circuits and to eventually reverse states of aging for regenerating tissues like the brain.