“Another tool in the toolbox”: CRISPR moves to RNA

Scientists have created a new version of CRISPR that can target and edit RNA, the transcription mechanism of DNA.

Published last week in Science, the new tool offers a great advantage: its edits aren’t permanent. Because RNA is constantly being created and recycled inside cells, if a mistake is made to RNA, the faulty RNA will most likely be degraded within 24 hours. This is not to say that its effectiveness is reduced, as the CRISPR system can live within the cells for months, continuously making programmed edits as the RNA refreshes. DNA edits on the other hand are permanent, such that mistakes can lead to cancer, and faulty edits can be passed on through generations.

Researchers have shown that the new system, named REPAIR, can work relatively efficiently in human cells. In the future, researchers hope it might be used to treat diseases, as well as to better understand the role that RNA plays in causing those diseases.

Read more: Science / MIT / Reuters / Nature / The Verge

Image: Wikimedia / CC-BY-2.0 – RNApol

This story is taken from the 03 November 2017 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.