Several years ago MIT scientists began working with Pfizer to develop a way to boost the production of useful proteins in mammalian cells. Previous studies had been able to activate genes through the use of a synthetic transcription factor called zinc fingers. This is an inefficient method as each gene requires a complete different transcription factor. The scientists at MIT were able to develop a more efficient way to boost the production of useful proteins. They took a different approach as they used the CRISPR system, which is typically used for to remove genes, and modified it into a transcription factor. They were able to accomplish this by modifying the cas9 protein so it no longer snipped DNA and added a protein to activate transcription.
This system was tested in many different cells including hamsters ovary cells, rat myoblast and human embryotic cells. The results demonstrated the success of being able to increase the production of specific proteins. The scientists states that their research still is not complete as they have only tested this on cells that have grown on flat surfaces and not liquid mediums. But this research was very interesting to read how these scientists were able to modify the CRISPR system.