November 13, 2019
It’s not easy to treat viral infections. Just ask anyone with a bad cold or a case of the flu.
But scientists in Massachusetts think they may have a new way to stop viruses from making people sick by using what amounts to a pair of molecular scissors, known as CRISPR.
It’s a gene editing tool based on a molecule that occurs naturally in microorganisms.
CRISPR comes in many “flavors” that perform a variety of functions inside cells. The Cas9 flavor has been widely used as a tool for editing DNA inside cells. It’s already shown promise for medical therapies such as treating sickle cell disease.
What’s different is that the antiviral approach researchers at the Broad Institute in Cambridge are using involves a form of CRISPR called Cas13 that targets specific regions of RNA, not DNA.