DNA, Got it. Cut. Next up, RNA
According to a report from Nature, the Crispr technology used for cutting and pasting genes has now been adapted to work for cutting RNA. The breakthrough could give researchers an entire new set of tools for studying and attempting to treat diseases.
The method uses an enzyme known as C2c2 to target the RNA.
According to Gene Yeo, the author of an accompanying study that also investigates the use of CRISPR technology for editing RNA, “I think we’ll see an avalanche of these tools that will enable us to monitor and study RNA. This helps us think about RNA as not just an intermediate molecule between DNA and protein.”
Scientists Find Form of Crispr Gene Editing With New Capabilities
Via the NY Times / Science Breakthrough? In the journal Science, researchers have reported a form of Crispr that breaks apart not DNA, but RNA — the molecular messenger used by cells to turn genes into proteins.
If scientists can get this process to work in human cells, they may open up a new front in gene engineering, gaining the ability to precisely adjust the proteins in cells, for instance, or to target cancer cells.
Via MIT News / The RNA-focused action of C2c2 complements the CRISPR-Cas9 system, which targets DNA, the genomic blueprint for cellular identity and function. The ability to target only RNA, which helps carry out the genomic instructions, offers the ability to specifically manipulate RNA in a high-throughput manner — and to manipulate gene function more broadly. This has the potential to accelerate progress to understand, treat, and prevent disease.
“C2c2 opens the door to an entirely new frontier of powerful CRISPR tools,” said senior author Feng Zhang, who is a core institute member of the Broad Institute, an investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, and the W. M. Keck Career Development Associate Professor in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.
“There are an immense number of possibilities for C2c2, and we are excited to develop it into a platform for life science research and medicine.”