Researchers from Temple University have used the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tool to clear out the entire HIV-1 genome from a patient’s infected immune cells. It’s a remarkable achievement that could have profound implications for the treatment of AIDS and other retroviruses.
It’s a little early to break out the champagne, but while medication for HIV has done wonders – HIV is notoriously good at hiding in the body. That’s where news like this brings hope that HIV positive people could one day be truly cured.
When Spanish explorers first brought domesticated tomatoes to Europe 500 years ago, the fruit was already gigantic compared with its olive-sized wild counterparts. Researchers trying to understand the genetic basis of this girth have uncovered a way to make other fruits larger as well. The team discovered this secret by studying two mutant tomato strains that had many branches coming off the upper part of the stem and that produced unusually fecund fruit.
Editing the sequence of bases in a DNA molecule is pretty straightforward in a test tube. Until recently, editing the DNA of a living organism had been a very large challenge, one that was more often avoided than taken up. But a system bacteria use to defeat viruses has been repurposed to make a versatile DNA editing system.
Last week brought the horrifying news that the Ebola virus can live in the eyeballs of survivors, even after it’s been eliminated from the rest of the body. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, though. Viruses have always hidden in parts of our bodies you’d never expect. In fact, we’re all walking virus reservoirs.
CRISPR, a new genome editing tool, could transform the field of biology—and a recent study on genetically-engineered human embryos has converted this promise into media hype. But scientists have been tinkering with genomes for decades. Why is CRISPR suddenly such a big deal?
Biologists have been mixing the DNA of different animals since the 1970s, but the idea of injecting the genes of animals into humans remains taboo. Called transgenics, it’s a practice that could cure illness in the future — and eventually reshape our species. Here’s what you need to know about it.