IRSA: using the infectious disease of Atlantic salmon as a model, this project aims to create new knowledge about gene-editing, enabling the CRISPR/Cas9 technology to be used in a responsible manner.

The overall objective of the project is to identify and provide solutions to the impact(s) of CRISPR/Cas9 on salmon breeding using infectious disease model of Atlantic salmon. This is an important aspect of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology because it provides much needed knowledge about how and where to apply the technology in a safe and sustainable way.

Modern genome editing (GE) techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9 are revolutionizing how the genomes of animals, plants, and microorganisms can be modified. The CRISPR/Cas9 technique has the potential to provide far-reaching solutions to several different challenges as well as provide new opportunities within different sectors, such as aquaculture and veterinary medicine.

In Norway, the EU, and other regions, the current discussion is on if and how products arising from modern GE techniques, especially CRISPR/Cas9, should and/or could be regulated. Given the enormous importance of the matter, the decisions whether to regulate or not to regulate and more importantly, how to regulate GE products, should be based on knowledge derived from profound scientific research. The current existing risk assessment frameworks do not cover CRISPR/Cas9 gene-edited products, and thus will challenge the existing risk assessment framework when it comes to detection, identification, tracing, and monitoring. The necessary knowledge essential to make these crucial decisions and risk assessments is still inadequate.

This project aims to use infectious salmon anemia (ISA) disease of Atlantic salmon as a model to create new knowledge about gene-editing in animal breading, enabling the CRISPR/Cas9 technology to be used in an efficient, safe and sustainable manner. Specifically, we hope to identify and provide solutions on how to limit/prevent off-target effects of CRISPR/Cas9 using salmonids-derived cell-lines before moving onto in-vivo testing. In addition, the project integrates key aspects of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and discusses sustainability related to the use of CRISPR/Cas9 in animal breeding.

Results from the project will provide information needed by the salmon aquaculture industry on the impacts of the new and innovative CRISPR/Cas9 technology on salmon health and the ecosystem, helping the industry to formulate a perception of CRISPR/Cas9 based on scientific knowledge.

Overall, this project has animal welfare, environmental, economic, political and social benefits.

Project members:

Arinze Okoli (contact person)

Jennifer Ann Lillebo Nunn

Idun Merete Grønsberg