A new CRISPR technique could fix almost all genetic diseases possible

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A new method, called “prime editing,” could, in principle, correct around
89 percent of the mutations that cause inherited human disease.

A less error-prone DNA editing method could correct many more harmful mutations than was previously possible.

Andrew Anzalone was restless. It was late fall of 2017. The year was winding down, and so was his MD/PhD program at Columbia. Trying to figure out what was next in his life, he’d taken to long walks in the leaf-strewn West Village. One night as he paced up Hudson Street, his stomach filled with La Colombe coffee and his mind with Crispr gene editing papers, an idea began to bubble through the caffeine brume inside his brain.

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CRISPR enzyme programmed to kill viruses in human cells

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Researchers harness Cas13 as an antiviral and diagnostic for RNA-based viruses

Researchers have now turned a CRISPR RNA-cutting enzyme into an antiviral that can be programmed to detect and destroy RNA-based viruses in human cells.

Many of the world’s most common or deadly human pathogens are RNA-based viruses — Ebola, Zika and flu, for example — and most have no FDA-approved treatments. A team led by researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has now turned a CRISPR RNA-cutting enzyme into an antiviral that can be programmed to detect and destroy RNA-based viruses in human cells.

Researchers have previously adapted the Cas13 enzyme as a tool to cut and edit human RNA and as a diagnostic to detect the presence of viruses, bacteria, or other targets. This study is one of the first to harness Cas13, or any CRISPR system, as an antiviral in cultured human cells.

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Synthetic organisms are about to challenge what ‘alive’ really means

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We need to begin a serious debate about whether artificially evolved humans are our future, and if we should put an end to these experiments before it is too late.

In 2016, Craig Venter and his team at Synthetic Genomics announced that they had created a lifeform called JCVI-syn3.0, whose genome consisted of only 473 genes. This stripped-down organism was a significant breakthrough in the development of artificial life as it enabled us to understand more fully what individual genes do. (In the case of JCVI-syn3.0, most of them were used to create RNA and proteins, preserve genetic fidelity during reproduction and create the cell membrane. The functions of about a third remain a mystery.)

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New CRISPR method takes on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

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The advance of CRISPR gene editing technology, which uses an RNA strand to guide an enzyme called Cas9 to cut a specific portion of DNA, has raised concerns and sparked debate as people envision a not-so-distant future populated by bioengineered super-crops, genetically flawless pets, and customized babies. While the method could be used for these purposes, it’s also showing potential as a valuable medical tool, with a seemingly new condition added each week to the list of what CRISPR may one day cure.

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EteRNA – an online video game connects players into a real biochemistry lab

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EteRNA

The latest research rage is crowdsourcing – Kickstarter to raise funding, screen savers that number-crunch, and games to find patterns in data – but most efforts have been confined to the virtual lab of the Internet. Researchers have now crowdsourced their experiments by connecting players of a video game to an actual biochemistry lab.

 

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Scientists reverse aging in mice

What if we had the ability to turn back time? A team that has identified a new way in which cells age has also reversed the process in old mice whose bodies appear younger in several ways. The discovery has implications for understanding age-related diseases including cancers, neurodegenerative disorders and diabetes.

 

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Science might have gotten it wrong. Now what?

The debate started in late 2011, when Chen-Yu Zhang’s team f found bits of rice RNA floating in the bloodstreams of Chinese men and women.

Last week, freelance journalist Virginia Hughes wrote about a scientific paper that was published in the elite journal Nature in 1995.  The findings of said paper were called into question by several other papers in different journals within a couple of years. As of today, nearly two decades since the original came out, nobody has replicated it. And yet, it’s still sitting there in the literature, still influencing others. It’s been cited nearly 1,000 times.

 

 

 

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New antiviral drug could destroy nearly any viral infection

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Scientists have come up with a brand new drug called DRACO that seems to be able to hunt down and destroy any and all viruses.

Antibiotics, such as penicillin, can treat most bacterial infections.  But when it comes to viral infections, including  influenza, the common cold, and deadly hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola, antibiotics are useless.

 

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A New Way to Make Stem Cells and Avoid the Political Pitfalls of Stem Cell Treatments

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A microscope image shows neurons created from pluripotent stem cells using modified RNA.

A Harvard researcher has developed a way to make pluripotent stem cells that solves several of the major impediments to using them to treat human diseases.

 

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Senecavirus Kills Cancer Cells Without Hurting Healthy Cells

Senecavirus Kills Cancer Cells Without Hurting Healthy Cells 

It’s a hard concept to grasp that a virus can infect a cell and actually do a good thing by killing the cell. This is what happens when a Senecavirus hits a cancer cell. What’s more the Senecavirus kills the cancer cell without hurting any healthy cells around it.

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MicroRNA In Blood May Help Detect Cancer And Other Diseases

MicroRNA In Blood May Help Detect Cancer And Other Diseases 

 

Tiny pieces of RNA are turning out to play a big role in health. Over the past few years, scientists have found that these molecules, called microRNAs, are involved in key functions in cells and are linked to the development of certain cancers and other diseases. A new study led by scientists at Nanjing University, in China, finds that microRNAs circulating in blood can serve as a molecular “fingerprint” for cancers and diabetes. The findings raise the possibility that a simple blood test could help clinicians tailor treatments to individual patients.

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