Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Cure using Crispr?

For those who don't know, the Crispr-Cas9 gene, it is a gene that aids flesh-eating bacteria to fight off "invasive viruses." The Crispr gene stores fragments of virus DNA in serial compartments. The "thing that [makes] Crispr-Cas9 tantalizing was its ability to direct its protein, Cas9, to precisely snip out a piece of DNA at any point within the genome and then neatly stitch the ends back together" (NY Times).

Among experimenting the gene, researchers observed that the gene depends on two different types of RNA: "a guide, which targeted the Cas9 protein to a particular location, and a tracer, which enabled the protein to cut the DNA" (NY Times). Researchers Jennifer Doudna and Martin Jinek composed multiple possible models of the RNA molecules, until they came along to a two-in-one type model, "combining them into a single tool." This tool, combined the two molecules of RNA; therefore, combining their two system, "[allowing] researchers to target and excise any gene they wanted — or even edit out a single base pair within a gene. (When researchers want to add a gene, they can use Crispr to stitch it between the two cut ends.) Some researchers have compared Crispr to a word processor, capable of effortlessly editing a gene down to the level of a single letter" (NY Times). Thus, the Crispr-Cas9 gene being utilized to help patients with infected bacteria, by using the gene to cut and strip the bacteria of it's protective immune system.

This article really sparked my attention since we had recently learned about restriction enzymes, and how interesting it was to see that a gene, along with it's protein, could act in a similar behavior. I hope that this new found technology can really help those suffering of invasive viruses.

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