'Virus transmission blocks' gene editing in human cells

Research presented on Tuesday might open the path for Covid-19 therapies by using CRISPR gene editing technology, to successfully prevent transfer of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to infected human cells.

Researchers in Australia have written in the journal Nature Communications and stated the instrument is successful in preventing viral transmissions in laboratory testing.

CRISPR has already demonstrated a promise to eliminate the genetic code that contributes to the development of children's cancer that permits researchers to change the DNA sequence and gene activity.

The scientists utilised a Tuesday enzyme, CRISPR-Cas13b, in which the novel coronavirus is connected to the necessary RNA sequences and the genome that has to be repeated inside human cells degrades.

The Australian Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity Lead author Sharon Lewin informed the AFP that the researchers has developed CRISPR method to determine Covid-19 virus SARS-CoV-2 responsibly.

"The CRISPR enzyme is triggered and chops the virus after the virus has been recognised," she added.

"We've targeted a number of viral components – extremely stable and nonchanging components, and highly changing components – and they performed really effectively to slice the virus."

In samples of so-called 'sorry variations' such as alpha, the method has also successfully stopped viral multiplication.

Although various Covid-19 vaccines are currently on the market, there are still relatively few and partially successful therapeutic alternatives.

'Best need treatments'

Lewin said it probably was "years, not months" away to use the CRISPR method in commercially available medicine.

However, she emphasised that the technique can still be beneficial in addressing Covid-19.

"The individuals who've been Covid hospitalised still need better care," Lewin added.

"Contrary to typical anti-viral medicines, the strength of this tool is its flexibility and its adaptation, making this a medicine suited for a host of pathogens, including influenza, Ebola and perhaps HIV," he added.

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