Revolutionary gene editing tools expanding

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February 6, 2019 - 10:34 AM

The crystal structure of Cas12b (purple) bound to RNA (gold) and DNA (brown). COURTESY RSCB/PDB/TNS

The gene-editing tool that has revolutionized biology is becoming even more powerful.

CRISPR, as the system is known, allows scientists to target and snip a specific sequence of letters on a strand of DNA with unprecedented precision. That has opened up new possibilities for treating genetic diseases, helping plants adapt to global warming and even preventing mosquitoes from spreading malaria.

CRISPR is made up of two basic components. The first is a piece of RNA that locates a predetermined sequence of DNA in an organism’s genome that scientists want to alter. The second is a type of protein called an enzyme that attaches itself to the target section of DNA and splices it.

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