A team of scientists have snipped away HIV DNA from the genome of live mice using a CRISPR system, and the rodents lived to (kinda) tell the tale. It’s still much too early to call the method a possible cure, but the fact that it worked on a living animal opens up a lot of possibilities. Will it work on other diseases, like cancer? Maybe, but that’s something scientists have to look into. These researchers headed by neurovirologist Kamel Khalili have been focusing on the use of the gene-editing technique to eliminate HIV for years. They successfully excised HIV DNA in live mice last year, but this round is a lot more thorough.
As the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it approached last week and the entire internet devolved into a morass of Trump headlines, the Food and Drug Administration quietly put forth proposed regulations that could drastically impact whether genetically engineered food winds up on your dinner plate in the future.
Designer babies are the kind of hypothetical conundrum that drive scientists crazy. What if, you ask, it becomes so easy to pick and choose which traits we desire in our children that we wind up creating a class of genetically engineered super humans and basically begin living out a real-life performance of the novel Brave New World? Yeah, what if, most scientists would respond.
Using the CRISPR gene-editing tool, scientists from Harvard University have developed a technique that permanently records data into living cells. Incredibly, the information imprinted onto these microorganisms can be passed down to the next generation.
The gene editing technique CRISPR promises to treat all kinds ofgenetically-linked conditions, but it’s so far limited to tweaking DNA, not the RNA that does everything from carrying protein sequence info to regulating gene expression. That may change soon, however. Scientists have discovered that a commonplace mouth bacterium (Leptotrichia shahii) can be programmed to break down whatever RNA you want. You could rip apart viruses, which are frequently based solely around RNA, or kill a cancer cell by denying it the chance to make vital proteins.
Researchers from Temple University have used the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tool to clear out the entire HIV-1 genome from a patient’s infected immune cells. It’s a remarkable achievement that could have profound implications for the treatment of AIDS and other retroviruses.
Mimiviruses are viruses so big they can actually be seen with a simple light microscope. European scientists have now learned that these bizarre organisms have their own immune system that makes them virtually invulnerable to predatory viruses, suggesting these creatures may actually represent a new branch in the tree of life.