Genetic engineers have made 13,000 changes in one cell using the CRISPR

Since its invention, CRISPR allows scientists to make changes in DNA in specific locations of the genome. Often, these pinpoint changes at a time. Anyway, it used to be — but a team of scientists from Harvard University said that using this technique has made 13 200 genetic changes in one cell. This is a record for editing genes.

How many changes can be made with the CRISPR?

A group of scientists led by genetic engineer George Church wants to rewrite the genomes on a much larger scale than was possible up to the present time — that, according to her, could eventually lead to a “radical change” of the species, even human.

That is, scientists are in plain text saying that the technology to edit genes will change the human species. For the better or for the worse? Whether we recognize ourselves?

To edit genes in such a scale previously tried. In 2017 the Australian group of scientists under the direction of Paul Thomas “cut out” Y-chromosome in mice by editing of genes and virtually destroyed it. Today this strategy is considered as a potential treatment of down syndrome, a genetic disorder caused by an extra chromosome.

To set a new record in the edit area of genes, the members of team Oscar Castanon and Corey Smith targeting the CRISPR sequence type DNA called LINE-1, mysterious recurring item, which “polluted” the human genome. These genetic elements able to replicate themselves, estimated to be about 17% of our genome.

Because CRISPR cuts the double helix, making a large amount of simultaneously will simply kill the cell. In the past this danger limited attempts large-scale editing. Jeff Faulkner of the University of Queensland in Australia says that in 2016 trying to get a LINE of 500 elements in mouse embryos in the hope of seeing whether it will affect the behavior of a rodent. But none of the mouse did not survive to leave offspring.

To avoid this problem, the Harvard team adapted the CRISPR variant called the base editor, so it does not cut the DNA, and replaced one genetic letter with another — say, turned to T. C

According to an article published in March on the website of preprints and BioRxiv, the team was able to make over 13,000 changes in some of the cells, not destroying them.

“They found a way to experiment without causing significant instability in the entire genome,” says Faulkner.

However, not all scientists agree that large-scale editing of the genome will lead to such radical changes of our species. Gaetan, Burgio the Australian national University, called the idea “exaggerated”.

The Church sees in large-scale purification method editing of the genome by deleting the contained gene pool. In 2015, for example, in his laboratory had destroyed all 62 copies of a retrovirus lurking in the genome of pigs. Such viruses can reactiviate, so removing them pigs would be an important step to the transplantation of organs from pigs to people.

According to the Church, its ultimate goal is the creation of an inventory of human organs or tissues with the revised genomes that will be immune to any viruses. He believes that this process — the transcoding — will include approximately 9811 point of genetic modification.

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