Purdue University, USA, have developed a new technology that could change how gene editing is approached and even improve disease treatment for the future.
Gene editing has been a much sought after and controversial technology. Last month, part of the World Health Organization called for an international registry to track all research into editing the human genome.
Could this be a form of disease treatment?
Purdue University researchers, including one who was inspired by the cancer death of a close friend, have developed a new technology that could change how gene editing is approached in the future.
One of the most widely used methods for gene editing is CRISPR-Cas9 technology. The method requires a certain sequence or motif for function that restricts modifications.
Kevin Solomon, an assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering, who leads the Purdue research team explains: “CRISPR can be programmed to cut DNA at specific regions to make precise edits in an organism that can increase sustainable manufacturing, treat disease and even create better crops.”
“However, it requires a certain sequence for function that restricts modifications to certain regions.”
Let’s talk about gene editing
Many diseases in humans, including several types of cancer, are caused by mutations at specific sites in the genome.
The Purdue team created a method that uses the protein Argonaute from Natronobacterium gregoryi (NgAgo) and supplied DNA as a guide to enable modification anywhere on the genome, providing new options to potentially improve manufacturing, disease treatment, drug discovery and crop production.
“While there is still work to do, we have shown that these molecular scissors can edit regions of DNA previously inaccessible by current technologies,” said Michael Mechikoff, a master’s student working on the project.
The team has worked with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialisation to file a utility patent on the technology. They are looking for partners and others interested in developing and licensing it.