Biotech Updates

Scientists Found a Way to Level Up Nonviral Gene Editing

May 17, 2023

Scientists from Chris Richardson's lab at UC Santa Barbara reported a new method that boosts the efficiency of CRISPR-Cas9 editing without needing a viral material to transport the template that edits the target gene sequence. Their study is published in Nature Biotechnology.

Viruses are often used to deliver the repair template DNA to the cell's nucleus. While viruses are effective, viral overflows are pricey, difficult to scale, and could be toxic to cells. “We've found a chemical modification that improves nonviral gene editing and also discovered an intriguing new type of DNA repair,” Richardson said.

Nonviral templates could be cheaper and more scalable, but there are still challenges that need to be addressed, such as efficiency and toxicity barriers. They also found that introducing interstrand crosslinks into the workflow increased homology-directed repair by about threefold. This breakthrough enables researchers to create disease models and test hypotheses about how disease works, and bring about better clinical and therapeutic strategies.

Read more from UC Santa Barbara.

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