Friday, August 14, 2020

CRISPR gene-editing can be used to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Stanford researchers find

In 2019, Assistant Professor Stanley Qi and his team in the departments of bioengineering and chemical and systems biology at Stanford University began working on a technique called PAC-MAN to fight influenza. PAC-MAN stands for Prophylactic Antiviral CRISPR in human cells and uses the gene-editing tool called Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) technology.

The research team didn’t know then that their PAC-MAN technique could be used in fighting a global pandemic like COVID-19. When the pandemic emerged in January, the team decided to try and use their PAC-MAN technology to fight it. In collaboration with a group led by Michael Connolly, a principal scientific engineering associate in the Biological Nanostructures Facility at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry, the researchers have been developing a system to deliver PAC-MAN into the cells of a patient since March. Their preprint paper was peer-reviewed and published in the journal Cell in June.

Read Also: Gene-edited embryos experiment with CRISPR ends disastrously

Like all CRISPR systems, PAC-MAN comprises of the virus-killing enzyme Cas13 and a strand of guide RNA. The guide RNA commands Cas13 to destroy specific nucleotide sequences in the coronavirus’s genome, effectively neutralizing it and stopping its replication.

Every gene-editing tool needs an efficient delivery system to deliver them to the molecular or cellular level. According to Qi, their lab doesn’t work on cellular delivery methods, and Connolly’s work on synthetic molecules called lipitoids at the Molecular Foundry came to their rescue. Lipitoids were first discovered 20 years ago by Connolly’s mentor Ron Zuckermann is a type of synthetic peptide mimic known as a “peptoid.” In the decades since the discovery, Connolly and Zuckermann have developed peptoid delivery molecules such as lipitoids.

Qi hopes to add his CRISPR-based COVID-19 therapy (PAC-MAN) to the Molecular Foundry’s growing body of lipitoid delivery systems. Their late April tests performed well. When packaged with coronavirus-targeting PAC-MAN, the system reduced the amount of synthetic SARS-CoV-2 in solution by more than 90%. The team is planning to conduct further tests in an animal model against live a SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Read Also: It will cost $260 billion to help prevent a new pandemic, scientists say

If the tests prove successful, the team hopes to continue working with Connolly and his team to develop PAC-MAN/lipitoid therapies for SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses. And also, explore options to scale up for a clinical trial.

The research is highly significant. It would be a powerful strategy to fight not just coronaviruses but possibly against new viral strains that can become a pandemic. CRISPR gene-editing technology has a lot of merits, even treating the first sick cell patient.

Do you want to publish on Apple News, Google News, and more? Join our writing community, improve your writing skills, and be read by hundreds of thousands around the world!

Source:, Berkeley Lab

More from Health – News Landed

+ Scientists found how COVID-19 causes loss of smell, and there’s great news
+ Only some mosquitos prefer human blood, but more are expected to join

Popular Stories – News Landed

+ SpaceX’s Starlink satellites ruined photos of the NEOWISE comet
+ How to attend Tesla’s Battery Day in-person event at Fremont, California

Comment Below

Featured Stories

More about the blue hole in the ocean, scientists reveal

We have enough ideas about the space and the planets revolving around, rather than the oceans, which...

Twitter account One Perfect Shot gets the HBO MAX series!

One Perfect Shot is a Twitter account that shares with the public the best and most iconic images...

Latest Stories

The Obesity epidemic may be on its way

The pandemic of COVID-19 is already causing many direct effects on health, as we saw in the...

FIA all set to change the F1 qualifying format with a major change

FIA is set to make a major change to F1 qualifying, which can affect Mercedes and some...

A new study discloses how the sun initiates skin cancer

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the world that humans develop as time passes; more...

Related Stories

Dental work need to be postponed during this time, WHO insists

At this time of the virus outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) has circulated a new notice. Avoid your...

Wrath of COVID-19 hits the United Kingdom the hardest, steepest GDP fall

Recession has kicked in, in one of the biggest economies. United Kingdoms’ recession is the worst, as the output shark by 20.4% in the second quarter of 2020, the worst on record pushing the country deep into damage.