Breakthrough shows how DNA is ‘edited’ to correct genetic diseases

An illustration of DNA attached to magnetic beads, as used in the single molecule microscope Professor Mark Szczelkun
An illustration of DNA attached to magnetic beads, as used in the single molecule microscope Professor Mark Szczelkun
An international team of scientists has made a major step forward in our understanding of how enzymes ‘edit’ genes, paving the way for correcting genetic diseases in patients.

Researchers at the Universities of Bristol, Münster and the Lithuanian Institute of Biotechnology have observed the process by which a class of enzymes called CRISPR – pronounced ‘crisper’ – bind and alter the structure of DNA.

The results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) today [26 May], provide a vital piece of the puzzle if these genome editing tools are ultimately going to be used to correct genetic diseases in humans.

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