New technique developed by UAlberta researchers vastly improves precision of gene-editing technology.
Imagine a future where a guided biomachine put into your body seeks out defective gene sequences in each cell and edits in the correct information with precision accuracy.
It’s called gene editing, and University of Alberta researchers have just published a game-changing study that promises to bring the technology much closer to therapeutic reality.
“We’ve discovered a way to greatly improve the accuracy of gene-editing technology by replacing the natural guide molecule it uses with a synthetic one called a bridged nucleic acid, or BNA,” said Basil Hubbard, Canada Research Chair in Molecular Therapeutics and an assistant professor in the U of A’s Department of Pharmacology, who led the study.
He and his team have filed a patent on their discovery and are hoping to partner with the pharmaceutical industry to incorporate it into a therapeutic.
Interest in gene-editing technology has been rapidly rising since the discovery of CRISPR/Cas9. This system is naturally present in bacteria, which use it for protection against their natural predators, called bacteriophages.
“It allows bacteria to store information about previous infections and then use it to seek out and destroy the DNA of new invaders by cutting it,” explained Hubbard.
“What researchers have realized is that this system can be programmed to cut a specific DNA sequence in a human cell also, allowing us to edit our genes. One of the main issues, however, is that the system is not perfectly specific—sometimes it cuts a similar but incorrect gene.”
Using its natural RNA guide molecule, the Cas9 system is quite accurate, only making a mistake about one per cent of the time, he noted.
“However, given that there are trillions of cells in the human body, even one percentage off is quite significant, especially because gene editing is permanent. One wrong cut and a patient could end up with a serious condition like cancer.”
The new BNA guide molecule that Hubbard and his team—which includes PhD student Christopher Cromwell, who is first author on the study—developed was shown to be much more stable and stringent in its quest for finding the right DNA to cut.
“Our research shows that the use of bridged nucleic acids to guide Cas9 can improve its specificity by over 10,000 times in certain instances—a dramatic improvement,” said Hubbard.
Though gene-editing technology still has several hurdles to overcome, including the challenge of how to deliver it effectively into the human body, it may someday be used to treat a wide variety of genetic diseases, from muscular dystrophy to hemophilia and various cancers.
The Latest on: Gene editing
via Google News
The Latest on: Gene editing
- What’s the future of human gene editing? Balancing ethical and religious concerns with evidence-based uses of genetic technologies on February 19, 2019 at 11:17 am
The November announcement of CRISPR-created babies provoked an intense uproar from scientists, ethicists and the public alike. Fears of independent actors and of their misguided decision-making ... […]
- UW Human Stem Cell Gene Editing Service considers expanding as service demand increases on February 19, 2019 at 8:03 am
Researchers across campus are utilizing unique service that derives IPS cell lines for benefit of stem cell researchers at UW University of Wisconsin biologist James Thomson and his lab attained the f... […]
- Gene editing still has a few bugs in the system on February 19, 2019 at 7:47 am
Of late, gene editing has been in the news due to an ethically reckless experiment in which human embryos were subjected to an inefficient form of gene editing. The subjects, now born, gained ... […]
- We must strictly regulate gene-editing now, before it becomes the norm on February 19, 2019 at 7:45 am
Science magazine, not known for sensationalism, highlighted the first human germline gene-editing endeavor in their recent publication with this headline: “CRISPR bombshell: Chinese researcher claims ... […]
- CRISPR Gene Editing Makes Stem Cells ‘Invisible’ to Immune System on February 19, 2019 at 6:06 am
UC San Francisco scientists have used the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing system to create the first pluripotent stem cells that are functionally “invisible” to the immune system, a feat of biological engine... […]
- What we risk as humans if we allow gene-edited babies on February 19, 2019 at 5:16 am
One of the fears expressed by scientists is that gene editing may result in unwanted side effects. But beyond the health and medical concerns, what are the philosophical issues at stake here when ... […]
- Gene Editing and Sequencing Industry Hikes with Striking at a 22.5% CAGR by 2023 Briefing by Segmentation, Technology and Trend on February 18, 2019 at 5:40 pm
Feb 18, 2019 (MarketersMedia via COMTEX) -- Genotyping Market increasing research and development (R&D) activities in the healthcare sector and the rising prevalence of genetic ailments. Pune, India - ... […]
- Gene-editing kit puts power of lab into hands of citizen scientists on February 18, 2019 at 12:05 pm
OAKLAND — In an ordinary house tucked away on a quiet street in Oakland, Josiah Zayner stands over a container filled with green tree frogs with a syringe in hand. He carefully injects a liquid into a ... […]
- Future of gene editing in limbo on February 14, 2019 at 8:00 am
In one version of the future, beef and dairy animals are disease-free, fruits and vegetables are resistant to viruses, potatoes taste better and last longer, and wheat has no gluten or allergenic prop... […]
via Bing News