‘Superbugs’ could be killed with ‘genetic chainsaw’ version of gene editor CRISPR

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When folks talk about the gene-editing tool CRISPR, they’re usually talking about CRISPR-Cas9, a combination of DNA and enzymes that together act like scissors to cut and paste genes. CRISPR-Cas9 has already been hailed a potential game changer in the fight against cancer, crop pathogens, and environmental problems. But some researchers think a lesser-known flavor of the technology might be the answer to the world’s growing superbug problem. Ladies and gentlemen, meet CRISPR-Cas3.

If CRISPR-Cas9 is a genetic scalpel, Cas3 is a chainsaw. Which is exactly why researchers think it might be just the thing to attack the sort of super-tough bacteria that can resist antibiotics.

“What we’re trying to do is kill bacteria,” Rodolphe Barrangou, a molecular biologist at North Carolina State University, told Gizmodo. “It’s like a Pac-Man that’s going to chew up DNA rather than make a clean cut. It chews it up beyond repair. It’s lethal.”

Hard-to-kill bacteria, often dubbed “superbugs,” have become a major problem, developing resistance to antibiotics more quickly than we can discover new ones.

Barrangou’s work is in its early stages, but it may be among the most promising alternatives to new antibiotics.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Scientists Are Creating a Genetic Chainsaw to Hack Superbug DNA to Bits

  • Jossarian

    Such chainsaw exist already. It’s name is bacteriophages.
    There is continuous war race between bacteria (and their CRISPR immune system) and phages. I think that ‘superbugs’ will become resistant for such artificial CRISP-Cas9 genetic scalpel quite quickly. Isn’t it easier to find existing scalpel in form of new phage?

    Such things are already being done in Poland in Phage Therapy Unit
    of the Medical Centre of the Institute of Immunology and Experimental Therapy located in Wroclaw. Institute is treating superbugs infections with 80-90% success rate:
    https://www.iitd.pan.wroc.pl/en/OTF/ZasadyTerapiiFagowej.html