CRISPR-associated transposons able to insert custom genes into DNA without cutting it

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A team of researchers affiliated with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, MIT and the National Institutes of Health has found that CRISPR-associated transposons can be used to insert custom genes into DNA without cutting it. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes their new gene-editing technique and how well it worked when tested in a bacterial genome.

The CRISPR gene editing has made headlines in recent years due to its potential for treating hereditary diseases. Unfortunately, despite much research surrounding the technique, it is still not a viable option for use on human patients. This is because the technique is error-prone—when snipping strands of DNA, CRISPR sometimes cuts off-target DNA as well, leading to unintended and unpredictable consequences (and sometimes cancerous tumors). In this new effort, the researchers have found a way to use CRISPR in conjunction with another protein to edit a strand of DNA without cutting it—they are calling it CRISPR-associated transposase (CAST).

Prior research has shown that certain pieces of DNA called transposons are, for unknown reasons, able to reposition themselves in a genome spontaneously—for this reason, they have come to be known as jumping genes. Not long after they were discovered, researchers noted that they might be used for gene editing. This is what the researchers did in the new study. They associated a transposon called Tn7 with the Cas12 enzyme used with CRISPR to edit a section of a bacterial genome. In practice, CRISPR led the Tn7 transposon to the target location in the genome—at that point, the transposon inserted itself into the without cutting it.

Thus far, the technique is still classified as a proof-of-principle study, but it has shown great promise. When tested multiple times, it had a of 80 percent compared to the conventional CRISPR rate of just 1 percent. At this time, however, it is still not known if the technique could work in non-bacterial organisms.


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More information: Jonathan Strecker et al. RNA-guided DNA insertion with CRISPR-associated transposases, Science (2019). DOI: 10.1126/science.aax9181
Journal information: Science

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Citation: CRISPR-associated transposons able to insert custom genes into DNA without cutting it (2019, June 7) retrieved 19 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-06-crispr-associated-transposons-insert-custom-genes.html
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Jun 07, 2019
This type of research(gene editing) is the most important research that can be done to advance the human race.

These researchers should be applauded and idolized. Placed on a pedestal and richly rewarded.

They do this research while others spend money and precious resources researching whether children like vanilla or chocolate ice cream better.

Jun 07, 2019
Can they make Tree sized Grass or Elephant Sized Chicken, Cattle and Sheep now ?

Jun 07, 2019
Can they make Tree sized Grass or Elephant Sized Chicken, Cattle and Sheep now ?


Not yet but those things WILL be possible or happen in the near future.
Sounds kind of like magic doesn't it?
But it has been said that "advanced technology will seem like magic to us".

Jun 09, 2019
This type of research(gene editing) is the most important research that can be done to advance the human race.


I fail to see how it can "advance the race" or species - just because we modify an individual's genome doesn't mean we can make useful changes, or changes that propagate throughout the entire population. But it can help against diseases as the article notes.

And aside from that, basic research such as on taste differences and their biological or social causes are always welcome! Without basic research, we would not know about CRISPR or transposons.

Jun 09, 2019
I fail to see how it can "advance the race" or species


We will soon be able to make any changes we desire to a adult human being. That includes REVERSING those changes if we desire. The cost will be very cheap, because the changes to the DNA are produced like a blueprint. The genetic drug itself is very cheap, for example you can buy genetic engineering experimental kits on ebay for under $200.

Ok, now you asked what use those changes could be. Not counting eliminating a HUGE variety of diseases, we will be able to enhance the intelligence(EI drug) of adults. Enhancing intelligence in adults will enable faster, further, and greater enhancements. Enhanced intelligence will enable you and me to solve all the world problems we now have.
As a way of explaining the effects of these EI drugs.
If I were to sneak a EI drug in your drink that boosted your IQ by 10%, would YOU become a monster?
What if a month later I did the same thing again would YOU be a monster then?


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