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The new system, called CRISPR-Cas3, can efficiently erase long stretches of DNA from a targeted site in the human genome, a capability not easily attainable in more traditional CRISPR-Cas9 systems. Though robust applications may be well in the future, the new system has the potential to seek out and erase such ectopic viruses as herpes simplex, Epstein-Barr, and hepatitis B, each of which is a major threat to public health.
"My lab spent the past ten years figuring out how CRISPR-Cas3 works. I am thrilled that my colleagues and I finally demonstrated its genome editing activity in human cells," said Ailong Ke, professor of molecular biology and genetics and a corresponding author of a paper published April 8 in the journal Molecular Cell. "Our tools can be made to target these viruses very specifically and then erase them very efficiently. In theory, it could provide a cure for these viral diseases."
CRISPR-Cas3 - Technology - Researchers - Genome - Elements
The CRISPR-Cas3 technology also allows researchers to scan through the genome and detect non-coding genetic elements, which make up 98 percent of our genome but have not been well characterized. These elements act as regulators that control the expression of proteins in coding genes, and they've been found to be pivotal for cell differentiation and sex determination.
CRISPR-Cas3 could be used to efficiently screen for non-coding genetic elements and erase long sequences of DNA. Once erased, researchers may look to see what functions are missing in an organism, to determine the role of that genetic element.
Yan - Zhang - Assistant - Professor - Chemistry
Yan Zhang, assistant professor of biological chemistry at...
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