BEACON TRANSCRIPT – According to the latest research papers, more precise and powerful gene editing tools may soon become available, ones that work not as a “scissor”, but as a “pencil”.
These new technologies are being worked on and were revealed by two study teams. They promise a new method of editing genes, ones which could enable single-letter or single base pairs instead of in pairs.
Gene Editing Tools Promised to Be Capable of Eradicating Genetic Diseases in Highly Precise Procedures
Some are touting these recent changes as the forerunners to the arrival of the CRISPR 2.0. The currently available CRISPR/Cas-9 technology by removing entire sections as it cut, copied, and pasted molecular arrangements of DNA base pairs.
“We developed a new base editor – a molecular machine – that in a programmable, irreversible, efficient, and clean manner can correct [mutations] in the genome of living cells,” states David Liu.
He is a chemical biologist part of Harvard University and the Broad Institute at MIT.
One of the new gene editing tools developed together with his team is called the ABE or Adenine Base Editor. As the name itself implies, this rearranges adenine atoms and makes them resemble G guanine ones. This basically prompts A-T or adenine-thymine base pairs to become G – C or guanine-cytosine ones.
According to reports, around half of all the currently known mutations could get solved through this single swap. The techniques can also be combined, to ensure the fixing of about two-thirds of them.
A New Study Targets the RNA
A separate but still related study targeted the RNA and the development of Cas-13. This is a CRISPR protein which should enable the editing of RNA. The gene editing tool based on it would also work by swapping adenosine with inosine. Cells interpret this as guanine.
Cas-13 wouldn’t lead to as significant and long-lasting results as DNA tools because it doesn’t alter the genes themselves. However, RNA gene editing techniques might be a useful method of temporarily addressing mutations.
In turn, this could help treat “many diseases” and recover function in “almost any kind of cell”, says the study team.
As it is, just as with the available CRISPR/Cas-9, these gene editing tools are still far from being ready to use in clinical conditions. Still, researchers consider that both of them are ‘incredibly promising’ and have a lot of potential.
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