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Can Crispr technology attack the coronavirus?

The Stanley Qi Lab is exploring ways that Crispr technology can be used to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Their latest results are one piece of a larger puzzle.


Stanley Qi, a pioneer in Crispr technology tools, is using a "PAC-MAN" approach in his lab.  The idea behind this approach is "to attack the coronavirus by directing a Crispr torpedo at it, attacking the virus’s genetic makeup that allows it to penetrate human cells and then use the cell’s machinery to self-replicate."  The results of his lab's experiment were printed last week (in preprint form and not yet peer-reviewed) and "is potentially a rapidly implementable pan-coronavirus strategy to deal with emerging pandemic strains.”  However, there still remain challenges ahead, to get from preprint to clinical testing in humans.  One challenge is finding the ideal way to introduce the PAC-MAN RNA to the virus and deliver treatment to the lungs. Perhaps someone else’s solution to this problem is already out there. “That’s one reason why we posted the paper so quickly,” Qi says. “Some people may have amazing delivery methods.”

Read the WIRED March 20 article: "Could Crispr Be Humanity's Next Virus Killer?"

Read the paper printed in bioRxiv: "Development of CRISPR as a prophylactic strategy to combat novel coronavirus and influenza"

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