Biotech Updates

CRISPR Used to Find Antidote for Deadly Mushroom Poison

May 17, 2023

Ninety percent (90%) of deaths due to mushroom ingestion are caused by death caps (Amanita phalloides). Drug developers from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, discovered a potential antidote for death cap's toxin using CRISPR technology. Their findings are reported in Nature Communications.

Qiaoping Wang and team previously developed a method to find an antidote for the jellyfish venom. They used CRISPR-Cas9 to develop a pool of human cells, each with a mutation in a different gene. Then they looked for the mutations that made the cells endure exposure to α-amanitin, one of the most dangerous compounds in nature which is present in both jellyfish and death caps.

The CRISPR screening led them to cells lacking functional STT3B enzyme, which can survive α-amanitin. STT3B is involved in a biochemical pathway that adds sugar molecules to proteins. When this pathway is impeded, α-amanitin is also blocked from entering cells and prevented from causing destruction. Then they sifted through 3,200 chemical compounds that could block STT3B action. They found indocyanine green, a dye developed for photography and currently used for medical imaging. Tests showed that only half of the mice treated with indocyanine green died due to α-amanitin poisoning, compared with 90% of those that were not treated.

Read more from Nature.

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