Gene Drive Supplement

Testing CRISPR-Cas9 Gene Drive for Prevention of Prion Diseases

July 27, 2022

Scientists at the University of Alberta investigated whether a CRISPR-Cas9-based gene drive mechanism could help control prion diseases. The results are published in Plos One journal.

Prion diseases are caused by the conversion cellular prion protein encoded by Prnp gene into a disease-associated form. Susceptibility to the disease can be eliminated through ablation of the cellular prion protein expression. This led the researchers to investigate whether CRISPR-Cas9-based gene drive could hasten the spread of a null Prnp among mammalian populations. However, expression of Cas9 in the male germline became a technical concern, which intercepted the progress of the gene drive in mice.

Prion diseases are a group of deadly and highly transmissible neurodegenerative disorders that includes chronic wasting disease in cervids. The prevalence of chronic wasting disease exceeds 30 percent in some endemic areas of North America, and is potentially transmissible to other mammals, including humans.

Read more about the study in Plos One.

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