Friday, 12 January 2018

A New Technology Can be Used Instead of Antibiotics to Kill Superbugs

Dr. Timothy Lu, an associate professor in biological engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found a new potential way to kill superbugs with a DNA editor called CRISPR-Cas9. The Wall Street Journalreported that Dr. Lu said: “is is basically a molecular scissor” that can snip bacterial genes that make bacteria drug-resistant, killing the bug in the process. The technology combines bacteriophages and CRISPR-Cas9 to target drug-resistant genes.

Dr. Lu is studying ways to eliminate superbugs with CRISPR-Cas9. He is contemplating combining the CRISPR-Cas9 technology with bacteriophages, and engineering the bacteriophages to attack only bacteria with drug-resistant genes. They were successful in including the CRISPR-Cas9 into a bacteriophage that was designed to attack a drug-resistant E. coli (Nature Biotechnology, 2014 Sequence-specific antimicrobials using efficiently delivered RNA-guided nucleases, R. J. Citorik, M. Mmee, and T. K. Lu). The new technology has the advantage of being a more targeted approach.

Numerous hurdles need to be overcome before this technology can be used against superbugs, including the demonstration that in humans, bacteriophages are safe and effective to use. Another concern is that the CRISPR can deviate from the target, thereby slicing the wrong genes. However, there is a race among scientists to find new applications for this novel technology.

One major concern is that CRISPER can veer off target, slicing away the wrong genes with potentially harmful effects, scientists say. There are also fears of unknown effects due to the use of CRISPER to modify bacteria. Regardless of the promise of this technology, any potential therapy is years away. Nevertheless, many other scientists are trying to harness this novel technology for a variety of applications.

Source: Bio Expert

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