If genetic editing wasn’t impressive enough already, a recent breakthrough in CRISPR technology has accelerated the quest towards editing entire gene networks in a single step. While this finding will probably shorten the time frames required for finding cures for deadly illnesses, it can also bring humanity closer to threats of bioterrorism.
The new technique
Prior to this finding, the process could only target a single gene for editing purposes, but now the ETH scientists managed to target 25 at once and they speculate that theoretically speaking, this method could target hundreds. Here is the official description of the process:
“ We demonstrate that both Cas12a and a clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) array can be encoded in a single transcript by adding a stabilizer tertiary RNA structure. By leveraging this system, we illustrate constitutive, conditional, inducible, orthogonal and multiplexed genome engineering of endogenous targets using up to 25 individual CRISPR RNAs delivered on a single plasmid. Our method provides a powerful platform to investigate and orchestrate the sophisticated genetic programs underlying complex cell behaviors. “
While this new method only boosts the efficiency of CRISPR, time plays a vital role in genetic editing. Complex genetic conditions occur by the interaction of genes in a cell. Targeting each gene individually to test a different setup usually takes a great period of time and the process might require intensive repetition in order to reveal the desired genetic variation, therefore reducing the time required to produce each generation makes the discovery and research process a lot more efficient. This might lead to inventing more important gene therapies which could potentially cure morbid conditions which have a high number of daily death tolls.