Wednesday, April 19, 2017

CRISPR and Human Gene Therapy

Hey guys!
So this doesn't have as much to do with our current topics in the class, but I think it is a pretty important area of modern Biology (it was first discovered only in 2005) so I thought I would post about it (and it's kind of about biodiversity in bacteria and archaea).
I recently started working at the Arias lab that works in virology primarily with CRISPR-Cas9.
Many bacteria and archaea have a section of DNA known as CRISPR (Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) that will produce RNA that will create a complex with a protein called Cas9. This complex is designed to find and cut apart foreign DNA from phages or plasmids and is a powerful form of defense for these organisms. Scientists have managed to develop our own versions of this complex; one of the most exciting parts of the CRISPR-Cas9 complex is that it can actually be engineered to cut out specific parts of a genome and then that area can be potentially replaced with whatever the scientist chooses. Our usage of this complex is not too advanced yet, but the potential for gene therapy and the ability to literally design a complex that can entirely cut out a genetic disorder in a developing baby is pretty huge. This is currently one of the primary contenders for gene therapy and it will be exciting to see how the technology develops in  the future.

Cool video explaining how it works

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