You are probably familiar with the genome editing struggle, how specialists want to find out exactly how the DNA works and how to program it. There is a widely known genome editing tool under the name of CRISPR. In fact, it is called CRISPR/Cas9. The Cas9 is actually the protein which edits the DNA. These are the basics that everybody in the field is accustomed with.
But if you want to know more about how it is done, something quite interesting was announced today: a new CRISPR system that has another editing-DNA protein. But what is so fascinating about it is that, in specific cases, it might just be better than the infamous Cas9.
This new discovery is a game changer in the field, as the Cas9 is just growing in popularity. Imagine that you can find Cas9 in every laboratory, everybody is working with it and everybody claims to have been the first one to find it. Now this new gene comes in and every scientists in the field has yet stop fighting for the previous protein.
This new protein is called Cpf1 and it represents solid proof that one single patent is just not enough to edit DNA. In fact, there are many reasons to believe that there might be other useful CRISPR proteins that have yet to be discovered. Imagine that the CRISPR was there when the first immune systems were born. Around 40% of bacteria have it, not to mention 90% of the arachaea.
And here is the solid proof: a study that was published in Cell today, a scientist named Feng Zhang and his colleagues decided to study bacterial genomes and see what they could find. Their result was astonishing: they found two different Cpf1 versions that could shape the DNA once they introduced them into human cells.
John van der Oost, a microbiologist from the Wageningen University and a co-author on the previously mentioned study, declared that “there are definitely many more defense systems out there, and maybe some of them might even have spectacular applications like with the Cas9 system.”Van der Oost also believes that this is only the beginning of discovering DNA changing proteins.
While further investigation is required to identify these proteins, it is fascinating to notice how this one discovery literally turned the field upside down. Genome editing still remains a controversial subject, but it might bring significant contributions to humanity in the years to come.
Photo Credits pixabay.com