Prestigious scientists from the Salk Institute reported that they managed to create a map of the molecular structure of the enzyme CRISPR, which allows scientists to more accurately manipulate the functions in the cell. Over the past few years, the CRISPR-Cas9 has fascinated the public imagination for its ability to edit the genetic code with the correction of defects in individual cells — that allows us to treat mutations and prevent the development of many diseases.
Enzymes Саѕ9, in particular, are something of a pair of scissors, cut pieces of the genetic code and inserting in their place the replacement. But these enzymes target DNA which is a fundamental building block in the development of the body, and fears are growing that the use of the enzyme for reprogramming the DNA of a cell can bring more harm than good.
CRISPR: harm or benefit?
New data of the Salk Institute, published in the journal Cell, provide a detailed molecular structure of the enzyme CRISPR-Cas13d that can target RNA instead of DNA.
Once RNA was considered as just a mechanism of delivery of instructions, encoded in DNA, for cellular operations, but now we know that it serves biochemical reactions like enzymes and operates its own management functions in cells. Identifying an enzyme that can focus on the control mechanisms of cells, and not on the General plan of cellular function, scientists will be able to perform more precise interventions with less risk.
Simply put, the editing tools can allow scientists to modify gene activity without making permanent — and possibly dangerous — changes in the gene.
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