Crop Biotech Update

CRISPR Helped to Successfully Prevent and Treat COVID-19 Infections

August 3, 2022

Researchers led by a team at Duke Health in Duke University used CRISPR technology to successfully prevent and treat COVID infections in proof-of-concept experiments conducted in mice.

The experiments modified a currently available lipid nanoparticle to deliver a specific CRISPR-Cas13 mRNA that generates an inhospitable environment in the lungs for SARS-CoV-2 infection. Duke University professor Qianben Wang and colleagues focused on an enzyme that breaks down protein, a protease called cathepsin L, or CTSL, which is abundant in the lungs and has long been identified as playing a key role in SARS-CoV-2 and many other coronavirus infections, enabling the virus to enter host cells and proliferate.

Other researchers have attempted to use CTSL inhibitors to thwart coronavirus infections for many years. Lab experiments were promising, but animal tests had disappointing results. Using CRISPR technology, Wang's team was able to create a way to safely initiate CTSL inhibition. CRISPR-Cas13, delivered intravenously through a lipid nanoparticle, diminished CTSL in the lungs of mice, which effectively and safely blocked the SARS-CoV-2 virus from entering cells and infecting the host.

For more details, read the article in Duke Health News and Media.

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