LEAPER Provides Potential Gene Editing Alternative
It’s called LEAPER. The new gene-editing technology that might be a replacement for CRISPR may produce the same results without the fear of genes becoming mutated in later generations.
In an article by Kristen Houser on futurism.com, a paper published on Monday in the journal Nature Biotechnology describes this new technology, which stands for “leveraging endogenous ADAR for programmable editing of RNA.” It works similarly to CRISPR-Cas13, targeting RNA molecules as opposed to DNA, like the well-known CRISPR-Cas9.
But while CRISPR-Cas13 relies on both a guide RNA and the Cas13 enzyme to make its edits to RNA, the LEAPER system needs just one component known as an arRNA.
This makes the system “more easily deliverable and less likely to result in unwanted cellular immune responses,” the researchers told China-based media outlet Caixin.
It’s complicated to explain to anyone but a microbiologist, but basically it alters a strand of genes just before birth. The first scientist to report doing this successfully claimed to have prevented a newly conceived child from inheriting HIV from his parents.
It’s been more than half a year after Chinese scientist He Jiankui claimed that he had created the world’s first gene-edited twins immune to HIV, causing a global ethics whirlwind of condemnation and scorn. He said the gene editing occurred during IVF, or lab dish fertilization. First, sperm was “washed” to separate it from semen, the fluid where HIV can lurk. A single sperm was placed into a single egg to create an embryo. Then the gene editing tool was added.
Leng Shumei at globaltimes.cn gave a layman’s explanation of the new technology, called CRISPR-Cas9. Adapted from a naturally occurring genome editing system in bacteria, the Cas9 enzyme⏤a protein which plays a vital role in the immunological defense of certain bacteria against DNA viruses⏤would be introduced into the human body to cut the viruses’ DNA.
Such technology relies on the delivery of exogenous proteins or chemically modified guide RNAs, which may lead to aberrant effector activity, delivery barrier or immunogenicity, Wei Wensheng, a Peking University biologist and leading researcher of the latest technology, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
On the contrary, the latest technology, called leveraging endogenous ADAR for programmable editing of RNA (LEAPER), makes uses of native proteins and does not change DNA directly, thus would not bring about “heritable changes and is precise and safe,” Zhou Zhuo, another member of the research team, told the Global Times.
For past two years, the team has tested LEAPER on a cellular level. They plan to test rats next.
As we mentioned, certain moral and ethical questions are being raised about this technology, but for others, the upside is the ability in the near future, to eliminate certain deformities, diseases, or other issues before passing them on to future human generations.
read more at futurism.com
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