New CRISPR gene editors can fix RNA and DNA one typo at a time | Science News

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New CRISPR gene editors can fix RNA and DNA one typo at a time

In experiments, ‘base editors’ reverse disease-causing mutations

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1:00pm, October 25, 2017
pencil erasing blood cells

PENCIL IT IN  Scientists have used two new versions of CRISPR gene editors, which rewrite DNA like pencils instead of cutting like scissors, to change single-letter typos that cause some blood disorders.

New gene-editing tools can correct typos that account for about half of disease-causing genetic spelling errors.

Researchers have revamped the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editor so that it converts the DNA base adenine to guanine, biological chemist David Liu and colleagues report October 25 in Nature. In a separate study, published October 25 in Science, other researchers led by CRISPR pioneer Feng Zhang re-engineered a gene editor called CRISPR/Cas13 to correct the same typos in RNA instead of DNA. 

Together with other versions of CRISPR/Cas9, the new editors offer scientists an expanded set of precision tools for correcting diseases.

CRISPR/Cas9 is a molecular scissors that snips DNA. Scientists can guide the scissors to the place they want to cut in an organism’s genetic instruction book with a guide

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