Tuesday March 26, 2019

CRISPR Gene Editing can Cause Risky Collateral DNA Damage: Study

The work has implications for how CRISPR/Cas9 is used therapeutically and is likely to re-spark researchers' interest in finding alternatives to the standard CRISPR/Cas9 method for gene editing

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Gene triggering antibiotic reaction risk identified. Pixabay

The much celebrated CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technique can cause greater genetic damage in cells than was previously thought, scientists have warned.

CRISPR/Cas9 is a type of molecular scissor technology that can alter sections of DNA in cells by cutting at specific points and introducing changes at that location.

Besides extensive use in scientific research, CRISPR/Cas9 has also been seen as a promising way to create potential genome editing treatments for diseases such as HIV, cancer or sickle cell disease.

But the new research, reported in the journal Nature Biotechnology, revealed that CRISPR/Cas9 frequently caused extensive mutations, though at a distance from the target site.

Many of the cells, in both mice and humans, had large genetic rearrangements such as DNA deletions and insertions.

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CRISPR/Cas9 frequently caused extensive mutations, though at a distance from the target site.. Pixabay

These could lead to important genes being switched on or off, which could have major implications for CRISPR/Cas9 use in therapies.

In addition, some of these changes were too far away from the target site to be seen with standard genotyping methods, the researchers said.

“This is the first systematic assessment of unexpected events resulting from CRISPR/Cas9 editing in therapeutically relevant cells, and we found that changes in the DNA have been seriously underestimated before now,” said Allan Bradley, Professor at the Wellcome Sanger Institute in London.

Also Read: New Link Found Between Alcohol, Genes And Heart Failure

“It is important that anyone thinking of using this technology for gene therapy proceeds with caution, and looks very carefully to check for possible harmful effects,” Bradley added

The work has implications for how CRISPR/Cas9 is used therapeutically and is likely to re-spark researchers’ interest in finding alternatives to the standard CRISPR/Cas9 method for gene editing.

“While it is not known if genomic sites in other cell lines will be affected in the same way, this study shows that further research and specific testing is needed before CRISPR/Cas9 is used clinically,” the researchers said. (IANS)

Next Story

Novel Device by Microsoft Can Store Digital Info as DNA

Further, the team also developed techniques to search for and retrieve only images that contain an apple or a green bicycle — using the molecules themselves and without having to convert the files back into a digital format

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Microsoft, Taiwan AI
A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. VOA

Tech major Microsoft has successfully developed an end-to-end automated DNA storage device that can translate digital information into DNA and back to bits, the company said in a blog post.

The fully automated system to store and retrieve data in manufactured DNA is a key step in moving the technology out of the research lab and into commercial datacenters.

The novel system, developed in partnership with University of Washington, translated “HELLO” into DNA and converted it back to digital data in just 21 hours, reported the paper published in Nature Scientific Reports journal.

“Our ultimate goal is to put a system into production that, to the end user, looks very much like any other cloud storage service — bits are sent to a datacenter and stored there and then they just appear when the customer wants them,” Karin Strauss, principal researcher at Microsoft, wrote in the post on Thursday.

“To do that, we needed to prove that this is practical from an automation perspective,” Strauss added.

The system has so far stored one gigabyte of data in DNA, which includes cat photographs, great literary works, pop videos as well as archival recordings in DNA, which could be retrieved without errors, the researchers said.

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FILE – Microsoft Corp. signage is seen outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Washington, July 3, 2014. VOA

The automated DNA data storage system uses software that converts the ones and zeros of digital data into the As, Ts, Cs and Gs that make up the building blocks of DNA.

Then it uses cheap lab equipments to flow the necessary liquids and chemicals into a synthesiser that builds manufactured snippets of DNA and to push them into a storage vessel.

When the system needs to retrieve the information, it adds other chemicals to properly prepare the DNA and uses microfluidic pumps to push the liquids into other parts of the system that “read” the DNA sequences and convert it back to information that a computer can understand.

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Information is stored in synthetic DNA molecules created in a lab, not DNA from humans or other living things, and can be encrypted before it is sent to the system.

Further, the team also developed techniques to search for and retrieve only images that contain an apple or a green bicycle — using the molecules themselves and without having to convert the files back into a digital format.

“We are definitely seeing a new kind of computer system being born here where you are using molecules to store data and electronics for control and processing. Putting them together holds some really interesting possibilities for the future,” said Luis Ceze, Professor at the varsity. (IANS)