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Dec 16, 2019

New CRISPR-based system targets amplified antibiotic-resistant genes

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, food, genetics, health

Taking advantage of powerful advances in CRISPR gene editing, scientists at the University of California San Diego have set their sights on one of society’s most formidable threats to human health.

A research team led by Andrés Valderrama at UC San Diego School of Medicine and Surashree Kulkarni of the Division of Biological Sciences has developed a new CRISPR-based gene-drive system that dramatically increases the efficiency of inactivating a gene rendering bacteria antibiotic-resistant. The new system leverages technology developed by UC San Diego biologists in insects and mammals that biases genetic inheritance of preferred traits called “active genetics.” The new “pro-active” genetic system, or Pro-AG, is detailed in a paper published December 16 in Nature Communications.

Widespread prescriptions of and use in animal food production have led to a rising prevalence of antimicrobial resistance in the environment. Evidence indicates that these environmental sources of antibiotic resistance are transmitted to humans and contribute to the current health crisis associated with the dramatic rise in drug-resistant microbes. Health experts predict that threats from antibiotic resistance could drastically increase in the coming decades, leading to some 10 million drug-resistant disease deaths per year by 2050 if left unchecked.

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