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Top Story

Pac-Man-like CRISPR enzymes have potential for disease diagnostics

Researchers have described 10 new CRISPR enzymes that, once activated, behave like Pac-Man to chew up RNA in a way that could be used as sensitive detectors of infectious viruses. The new CRISPR enzymes are variants of a CRISPR protein, Cas13a, which could be used to detect specific sequences of RNA, such as from a virus. The researchers showed that once CRISPR-Cas13a binds to its target RNA, it begins to indiscriminately cut up all RNA, easily cutting RNA linked to a reporter molecule, making it fluoresce to allow signal detection. Such a system could be used to detect any type of RNA, including RNA distinctive of cancer cells.

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