Uncovering cancer’s history: CRISPR turns cells into ‘molecular recorders’ to track cell changes

bioengineering l
Image: iStock

Cancer’s impenetrable secrets partly rely on its mysterious molecular history.

As cells turn to the dark side, a whirlwind of DNA changes gradually accumulate. Like flipping multiple interlinked light switches, the cell gradually changes its internal molecular operations, until its once-beneficial nature turns malevolent.

[A] team at MIT tapped the computational power of DNA to transform it into a minicomputer. Similar to its silicon counterpart, the technology dubbed DOMINO allows cells to read and write life events into single letters in its DNA. Unlike previous generations of cellular recorders that disrupt large chunks of genomic information, DOMINO alters data at the “bit” level. This keeps the cell functional, while massively increasing accuracy and storage capacity.

Related article:  Where are GMO crops grown? GLP infographics document the global growth of agricultural biotechnology innovation

At the heart of DOMINO are CRISPR base editors, a relatively new version of the gene editing tool that precisely swap one genetic letter for another. Think of every swap as tapping a computer key—multiplexing swaps lets researchers hit multiple keys in the correct sequence at the right time, and so write a cell’s history straight into its DNA. Sequencing the genome then retrieves the recordings, which can be pieced together into a biological timeline.

Read full, original post: Cellular Computers Get a Boost With CRISPR

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
can you boost your immune system to prevent coronavirus spread x

Video: How to boost your immune system to guard against COVID and other illnesses

Scientists have recently developed ways to measure your immune age. Fortunately, it turns out your immune age can go down ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend