STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

New gene editing technology could correct 89% of genetic defects

Scientists have developed a new gene-editing technology that could potentially correct up to 89% of genetic defects, including those that cause diseases like...

Posted: Oct 22, 2019 9:40 AM

Scientists have developed a new gene-editing technology that could potentially correct up to 89% of genetic defects, including those that cause diseases like sickle cell anemia.

The new technique is called "prime editing," and was developed by researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, who published their findings Monday in the journal Nature.

Prime editing builds on powerful CRISPR gene editing, but is more precise and versatile -- it "directly writes new genetic information into a specified DNA site," according to the paper.

In the traditional CRISPR-Cas9 approach, Cas9, a type of modified protein, acts like a pair of scissors that can snip parts of DNA strands. It can target genes in a specific location -- for instance, to disrupt a mutation.

About two-thirds of known human genetic variants associated with diseases are single point gene mutations, so gene editing has the potential to correct or reproduce such mutations.

Prime editing combines the CRISPR-Cas9 method with a different protein that can generate new DNA. The tool nicks the DNA strand, then transfers an edited sequence to the target DNA -- allowing researchers to smoothly insert and delete parts of human cells.

The technique allows researchers to search and replace entire sections of DNA strands, all without disruptive breaks or donor DNA. With this method, researchers say they hope to accurately and efficiently correct up to 89% of known disease-causing genetic variations.

"With prime editing, we can now directly correct the sickle-cell anemia mutation back to the normal sequence and remove the four extra DNA bases that cause Tay Sachs disease, without cutting DNA entirely or needing DNA templates," said David Liu, one of the authors of the study, in a Broad Institute press release.

"The versatility of prime editing quickly became apparent as we developed this technology," said Andrew Anzalone, another author in the study, in the press release. "The fact that we could directly copy new genetic information into a target site was a revelation. We were really excited."

The team of researchers will now continue working to hone the technique, trying to maximize its efficiency in various cell types and exploring any potential effects on the cells. They will also continue testing on different models of diseases to ultimately "provide a potential path for human therapeutic applications," according to the press release.

Gene editing is still a relatively young and rapidly expanding field of study -- CRISPR-Cas9 is based on a decade-old discovery, but was only used on humans for the first time in 2016. Then in 2017, the Broad Institute developed a new technique called base editing, which can make changes to a targeted DNA site without cutting the DNA.

Researchers at the Broad Institute and elsewhere hope CRISPR could one day target a wide range of "bad" genes -- potentially helping humans avoid obesity, Alzheimer's disease, genetic forms of deafness, and more.

However, as the technology has advanced, doctors, scientists, and bioethicists have also raised ethical questions. Some fear it could open the door to human embryos being manipulated for nontherapeutic reasons, or that it could create unintended mutations and new diseases.

Just earlier this year in March, a group of researchers, including the scientist who pioneered and patented CRISPR technology, called for a global moratorium on human germline editing -- changes made to inherited DNA that can be passed on to the next generation.

They listed ethical concerns, and pointed to Chinese scientist He Jiankui, who claimed to have made gene edits when creating two AIDS-resistant babies last year. He's work, which could have unforeseen consequences, has been internationally condemned and called "abominable in nature" by Chinese authorities.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 56560

Reported Deaths: 1656
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin18009819
Ramsey6944261
Dakota3991103
Anoka3365113
Stearns283120
Washington191743
Nobles17466
Olmsted162923
Scott139014
Mower10812
Rice9998
Blue Earth8525
Wright8135
Carver7792
Clay74540
Kandiyohi6761
Sherburne6497
St. Louis43619
Todd4202
Lyon4163
Freeborn3541
Steele3301
Nicollet31213
Benton3063
Watonwan2980
Winona24716
Crow Wing21313
Martin2045
Le Sueur2011
Beltrami1930
Chisago1791
Goodhue1768
Otter Tail1763
Cottonwood1710
Becker1431
Pipestone1439
Unassigned14040
McLeod1380
Itasca13212
Polk1313
Douglas1300
Waseca1280
Pine1270
Carlton1250
Dodge1230
Murray1221
Isanti1100
Chippewa981
Brown852
Faribault830
Meeker832
Morrison831
Wabasha810
Sibley792
Koochiching743
Rock740
Pennington721
Jackson700
Mille Lacs653
Fillmore610
Renville595
Cass582
Lincoln540
Swift521
Grant491
Yellow Medicine490
Roseau460
Pope430
Houston390
Norman340
Redwood300
Kanabec291
Hubbard280
Marshall280
Wilkin283
Aitkin270
Mahnomen231
Wadena230
Big Stone220
Red Lake200
Lake180
Clearwater150
Stevens150
Traverse100
Lac qui Parle60
Kittson40
Cook20
Lake of the Woods10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 45774

Reported Deaths: 883
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk9723203
Woodbury365151
Black Hawk300362
Linn210887
Johnson193315
Dallas178935
Buena Vista178512
Scott159312
Dubuque153729
Marshall138924
Pottawattamie121723
Story110914
Wapello84932
Muscatine82648
Webster7255
Crawford7193
Sioux5952
Cerro Gordo57617
Tama53729
Warren5281
Jasper45524
Plymouth4438
Wright4431
Louisa37914
Dickinson3754
Clinton3173
Washington28710
Hamilton2411
Boone2282
Franklin2205
Bremer1877
Clarke1863
Carroll1811
Emmet1791
Clay1711
Hardin1650
Shelby1611
Marion1530
Allamakee1514
Poweshiek1468
Benton1431
Jackson1411
Des Moines1392
Mahaska13617
Floyd1292
Guthrie1265
Jones1242
Cedar1201
Hancock1172
Butler1142
Henry1133
Pocahontas1131
Buchanan1111
Lyon1020
Madison1022
Clayton983
Cherokee971
Harrison970
Lee953
Taylor930
Humboldt921
Delaware901
Monona900
Iowa891
Winneshiek851
Calhoun822
Mills820
Fayette810
Sac810
Palo Alto790
Kossuth780
Jefferson770
Osceola770
Mitchell760
Page760
Winnebago760
Grundy741
Union701
Monroe677
Worth610
Chickasaw510
Cass481
Davis481
Howard480
Lucas454
Montgomery433
Appanoose423
Greene380
Fremont350
Van Buren321
Keokuk301
Ida290
Audubon281
Decatur220
Adair210
Ringgold211
Adams160
Wayne161
Unassigned80
Rochester
Clear
47° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 44°
Mason City
Clear
44° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 44°
Albert Lea
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 46°
Austin
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 46°
Charles City
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 43°
Some more rain in the forecast
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

New Location for Day Center

Image

Looking Ahead: Relay for Life on Sat.

Image

Rochester Awards CARES Act Funding

Image

Ballot Question About Park Funding

Image

School District to Implement Mask Mandate

Image

Honkers fall short to Willmar

Image

A fitting farewell to a member of greatest generation

Image

Charter Takes Hiring Online

Image

Rochester city council considers compensation oversight

Image

Sara's 10pm Newscast - Monday

Community Events