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What is RNA and how is editing it different?
Enter RNA. While DNA contains encoded information about who we are—like our hair type, eye color, and height—RNA is essentially DNA’s messenger. DNA controls these traits by dictating which proteins will be produced by our cells, as well as when and where. But it’s the complementary RNA molecules that actually carry those instructions out. Our bodies create new RNA all the time. So, if there were to be any off-target effects or other hiccups, you wouldn’t expect them to be so permanent.
Paper - Week - Researchers - Variation - CRISPR
In the paper out this week, researchers used a variation of CRISPR to edit RNA. The process that lead researcher Feng Zhang and his coauthors are calling REPAIR uses an enzyme and another specific protein. The enzyme, Cas13, finds and latches onto the targeted RNA area, and the protein, ADAR2, hops in and corrects the faulty protein sequence. Unlike CRISPR, the technique doesn’t cut anything. Instead, Cas13, simply makes more space where it's needed, and the ADAR2 repairs the area. It does this by switching individual RNA letters, an adenosine to a guanosine.
Diseases that are affected by these single base changes are actually pretty common: Parkinson’s disease, one type of epilepsy, and Duchenne muscular dystrophy all result from A/G mutations. Theoretically, REPAIR has the ability to fix these...
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