The new system allows more simple and precise genome engineering and will result in more desired genetic effects
Scientists have developed a new human genome editing system which has a greater potential for more simple and precise genome engineering.
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The system is called Cpf1 and can prove a great replacement for CRISPR-Cas9 technique which is currently used for editing genome. Scientists are considering the new technique a revolution in genome engineering.
“This has dramatic potential for advance genetic engineering,” Eric Lander, the director of Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and one of the leaders of the project. “The paper not only reveals the function of a previously uncharacterized CRISPR system, but also shows that Cpf1 can be harnessed for human genome editing and has remarkable and powerful features. The Cpf1 system represents a new generation of genome editing technology.”
The Cpf1 enzyme is different from Cas9 in many ways. Cas9 is a far more complex system which requires two RNA strands for cutting DNA whereas Cpf1 requires only one RNA strand. Cpf1 is also smaller than Cas9 which makes it easy to transfer it into cells and tissues.
The new technique also improves precision and does not leave blunt ends which mostly happens in Cpf1 DNA cutting. New technique slices strands more precisely. It also leaves extended parts on the cut side, so if targeted genome becomes mutated at a side, it can still be re-cut and corrected multiple times. The accurate cutting will help produce more desired genetic effects.
“The unexpected properties of Cpf1 and more precise editing open the door to all sorts of applications, including in cancer research.” Levi Garraway, one of the members of Broad Institute said in a statement.
CRISPR-Cas9 was first used for mammalian genome editing in 2013 by Feng Zhang. In the new study, Zhang and his colleagues searched several CRISPR systems in different strains of bacteria and eventually found Cpf1that could cut human DNA.
Though, new DNA cutting technique is more effective than the previous methods but it has few limitations. Zhang believes that these limitations can be overcome and even other enzymes can be developed for more improved genome editing.
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Zhang said.“Our goal is to develop tools that can accelerate research and eventually lead to new therapeutic applications. We see much more to come, even beyond Cpf1 and Cas9, with other enzymes that may be repurposed for further genome editing advances.”