The scope of CRISPR-based research has […] expanded because of the introduction of two new concepts. First, researchers began to manipulate RNA rather than DNA. In addition, small-scale DNA alterations became feasible and are slowly replacing the massive scope of changes that requires disrupting the entire DNA double helix structure.
RNA serves as the intermediate communicator between DNA and proteins. If DNA is analogous to a library full of books, RNA would be the person in charge of recording a second copy of the contents in the books to share with others. As a consequence, although CRISPR generally results in a permanent change in the editing target, any similar manipulations that use RNA would only yield short-term changes.
David Liu, currently a chemistry professor at Harvard University and an author of the Science study, explained why [the G-C to A-T] mutation is so harmful. “This class of mutation, changing G-C to A-T, accounts for about half of the 32,000 known pathogenic point mutations in humans,” Liu said to The Washington Post.
A problem associated with DNA editing is that it would be difficult to alter permanent changes. The RNA tool, in this regard, is useful because of its ability to edit a single base and potentially revert point mutations.
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