Study: CRISPR Stops Coronavirus Replication in Human Cells

Scientists used CRISPR gene-editing technology to stop the replication of coronavirus in human cells.

A study performed in lab dishes targeted and destroyed strands of RNA, instead of DNA, according to a report in Live Science. The approach hasn’t yet been tested on animals or people.

CRISPR is a technology that can be used to edit DNA sequences and modify gene function, Live Science reports.

Researchers used the CRISPR system and specifically an enzyme called Cas13b, which splits single strands of RNA, like that found in the virus that causes COVID-19, according to the study published in the journal Nature Communications.

The research showed that once the enzyme attaches to the RNA, it destroys the part of the virus that is used to replicate, according to Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, which collaborated on the research.

Researchers also found out that this technique worked with new mutations in the virus, such as the alpha or B.1.1.7 variant, which was first discovered in the United Kingdom.

The researchers say they plan to test the new method in animals, and eventually conduct clinical trials on people. Multiple studies are also underway to test CRISPR-based treatments in people, including cancer and HIV.

Read more in Live Science here. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications here.

In other news:

  • Three UT Dallas scientists developed an early-stage sweat sensor that monitors COVID-19 immune response. UT Dallas professor Shalini Prasad, doctoral candidate Badrinath Jagannath, and research scientist Kai-Chun Lin developed a wearable technology that can detect the molecules that help us fight off infections through sweat. The research is being done at the Biomedical Microdevices and Nanotechnology Lab on the Richardson campus. Read more about it in the Dallas Morning News here.
  • Gov. Greg Abbott announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission will receive more than $210 million in federal emergency grants to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will be used to implement more than two dozen mental health and substance abuse initiatives after drug overdose deaths rose in 2020. The initiative will include recovery services, in-person treatment, and peer recovery support between others. For more information go here.  

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