Biologists at UC Berkeley and the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) – a Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility – are using NERSC, the Office of Science’s primary supercomputing center, to identify a class of enzymes capable of editing out genes responsible for disease.
This revolutionary work requires petaflops of computing power to sift through billions of DNA sequences in the JGI data portals to identify proteins like Cas9 that, combined with the Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR), can “edit” a genome. First discovered by researchers at UC Berkeley, the CRISPR-Cas9 system has the power to permanently correct disease-causing mutations in cells, animal models, and eventually human patients to cure certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, sickle cell disease, and retinal degeneration.
Since the CRISPR system was first identified in the early 2000s, it has become the most promising technology for treating genetic disease in humans and enabling plants to survive stress caused by pests and the environment.
Credits: SC17, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facilities , DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and National Energy Scientific Supercomputing Center (NERSC) , McGovern Institute for Brain Research, MIT