According to research released Tuesday, scientists have used CRISPR gene-editing technology to successfully block the transmission of the SARS-CoV2 virus in infected human cells to help in Covid treatments. Writing in the journal Nature Communications, researchers in Australia said that the tool was effective against viral transmissions in lab tests. Animal trials to begin soon, they are hoping.
CRISPR allows scientists to modify gene function and modify gene function, which has already shown results in eliminating the genetic coding that drives the development of children’s cancer. An enzyme, CRISPR-Cas13b, was used by the team in Tuesday’s study that binds to relevant RNA sequences on the Covid and degrades the genome it needs to replicate inside human cells.
Lead author Sharon Lewin from Australia’s Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity told AFP that to recognize SARS-CoV-2, the team had designed the CRISPR tool, the virus responsible for Covid. “Once the virus is recognized, the CRISPR enzyme is activated and chops up the virus,” she said. “We targeted several parts of the virus – parts that are very stable and don’t change and parts that are highly changeable – and all worked very well in chopping up the virus.”
The technique also succeeded in stopping viral replication in samples of Alpha variant. There are many Covid vaccines available on the market, but treatment options are still scarce and not entirely effective.
According to Lewin, it is widely available medicine, using the CRISPR technique was probably years, not months away. But she insisted that the tool helps tackle Covid. Lewin said they still need better treatment for people who are hospitalized due to Covid. Current choices are limited, and at best, they reduce the risk of death by 30%. She said the ideal treatment would be a simple antiviral, taken orally that as soon as patients are tested positive for Covid are given. This would prevent them from getting a severe illness and, in turn, reduce the pressure in hospitals and health care.