Interactions between the genome and the environment govern all life. Within the last 5 years, science has developed powerful new ways to precisely manipulate the genome. We can, for the first time, alter any gene we choose. This CRISPR-Cas9 technology is already revolutionizing biology, and is poised to make a significant clinical impact. However, there are major hurdles that need to be overcome before this technology works in patients. We work on one of the most pressing problems; specifically, how do you ensure the drug is delivered to the correct cell, and avoids other cells? For example, if you have lung cancer, you want to edit the lung cancer cells, and not random cells in the brain. During this talk, we will describe gene editing technology in detail.
James Dahlman is an Assistant Professor in the Georgia Tech BME Department. He studied gene editing with Feng Zhang and RNA delivery with Robert Langer and Daniel Anderson.
The Lab for Precision Therapies at Georgia Tech works at the interface of drug delivery, nanotechnology, genomics, and gene editing. James has designed nanoparticles that deliver RNA to blood vessels in the heart and lung; these nanoparticles have been used by ~20 labs across the US since 2014, and work robustly in non-human primates. He has developed targeted combination therapies targeting 5 genes at once in vivo.
James also uses molecular biology to design the genetic drugs he delivers. He designed ‘dead’ guide RNAs; these guides can turn on genes using catalytically active Cas9. Similarly, using his background in nanoparticle chemistry, in vivo RNA delivery, and genomics, his lab designed a nanoparticle DNA barcoding system to measure how >200 nanoparticles target cells in a single mouse, directly in vivo.
James has won the NSF, NDSEG, NIH OxCam, Whitaker, and LSRF Fellowships, the Weintraub Graduate Thesis Award, and was recently named a Bayer Young Investigator and Parkinson’s Disease Foundation Young Investigator. His work has been published in Nature Nano, Nature Biotech, Nature Cell Bio, Science Trans Med, Cell, PNAS (2x), and other leading journals, and has led to him giving over 60 presentations across the world.