Scientists have found a way to edit RNA with the molecular scissors known as CRISPR, and they think it has broad medical potential in a range of fields.
U.S. researchers have just made a major breakthrough by expanding the gene-editing CRISPR tool to also edit RNA, acting as a sort of “molecular scissors.” Cells use RNA to take DNA information and turn it into proteins, which makes it a valuable tool in the field of medicine that could forever change how we approach many different aspects of medical care.
Scientists call the new system “RNA Editing for Programmable A to I Replacement,” or REPAIR for short. REPAIR represents a significant step forward as an RNA editing platform with broad implications for research, biotechnology, and therapeutics, the authors wrote in their study.
So far, scientists have only tested REPAIR on mammals and not humans, but they are hopeful in its potential. Their findings were published in the journal Nature.
“The ability to correct disease-causing mutations is one of the primary goals of genome editing,” said senior author Feng Zhang a core institute member at the Broad Institute and investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT. “So far, we’ve gotten very good at inactivating genes, but actually recovering lost protein function is much more challenging. This new ability to edit RNA opens up more potential opportunities to recover that function and treat many diseases, in almost any kind of cell.”