Huge breakthrough: Scientists find way to stop viruses dead in their tracks

Huge breakthrough: Scientists find way to stop viruses dead in their tracks

A new RNA gene editing tool using the CRISPR technique could be huge in the battle against viruses.

The gene-editing technique known as CRISPR has been one of the biggest advancements in medicine research in the last few years, and the discoveries about what it can do just keep getting more exciting.

Scientists have found that CRISPR is not limited to simply tweaking DNA to battle viruses, but can be used to edit RNA — which is responsible for things like carrying protein sequence info and regulating gene expression, according to an American Association for the Advancement of Science statement.

Scientists have found that one type of mouth bacterium can be programmed to break down whatever RNA scientists wnat it to break down, allowing them to destroy viruses that are often built around RNA. It could evne be used to attack cancer by keeping it from making vital proteins.

There’s still a lot of research and development work to refine this approach, or even to see if it works in humans, but it’s an exciting new discovery that has major implications for the future of medicine.

If it works as scientists think it can, it could be used against a wider variety of illnesses via gene editing that are typically very hard to treat with current treatments.

“The finding holds important implications for a range of biological applications, such as marking, modifying and modulating RNA,” the statement reads. “Roughly half of all bacteria species utilize an immune system called the Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats and CRISPR-associated genes (CRISPR-Cas), which protects the microbes from viruses and other invading DNA. While much focus in recent years has been directed at the ability to harness CRISPR-Cas systems to edit DNA, systems that specifically target RNA have been less studied.”



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