Propagation of the coronavirus stopped with Crispr gene scissors

New treatment option

Robert Klatt

A new treatment method uses the enzyme Crispr / Cas13b to stop the coronavirus from multiplying in infected cells.

Melbourne (Australien). Scientists at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity have developed a method based on the Crispr gene scissors that can stop the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus from multiplying in an infected cell. According to its publication in the journal Nature Communications, the method could significantly improve the treatment of Covid 19 patients in the long term.

The laboratory experiments were carried out by Sharon Lewin’s team with the enzyme Crispr / Cas13b. This binds to RNA sequences of the coronavirus and thereby switches off parts that the virus needs to multiply within an infected cell. “As soon as the virus is recognized, the Crispr enzyme is activated and cuts the virus,” explains Lewin.

Method also effective with virus variants

In the tests under laboratory conditions, the method worked both for parts of the virus that are “highly changeable” and for parts that are “very stable and do not change”. The method was therefore also able to combat virus variants such as the alpha mutant.

Long development time

“We still need better treatments for people who are hospitalized for Covid-19. Our current options are limited here and reduce the risk of death by 30 percent at best, ”explains Lewin. The scientists therefore want to test the new treatment option on animals as soon as possible before clinical studies can begin with humans.

According to the scientists, “years, not months” will pass before the Crispr technology can be used in medicine. According to Lewin, the new findings could still prove useful in the fight against SARS-CoV-2. In the future, a drug is conceivable that can be taken as soon as possible after a positive test result and that prevents a severe course of Covid-19.

Nature Communications, doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-24577-9


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