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Oct 10, 2019

CRISPR enzyme programmed to kill viruses in human cells

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Many of the world’s most common or deadly human pathogens are RNA-based viruses—Ebola, Zika and flu, for example—and most have no FDA-approved treatments. A team led by researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has now turned a CRISPR RNA-cutting enzyme into an antiviral that can be programmed to detect and destroy RNA-based viruses in human cells.

Researchers have previously adapted the Cas13 enzyme as a tool to cut and edit human RNA and as a diagnostic to detect the presence of viruses, bacteria, or other targets. This study is one of the first to harness Cas13, or any CRISPR system, as an antiviral in cultured .

The researchers combined Cas13’s with its diagnostic capability to create a single system that may one day be used to both diagnose and treat a viral infection, including infections caused by new and emerging viruses. Their system, called CARVER (Cas13-Assisted Restriction of Viral Expression and Readout), is described today in Molecular Cell.

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