CRISPR Technology Enables DNA To Resist Superbugs

Scientists have long found that antibiotics were the most effective method for treating certain illnesses; however, with technological advances comes new options. A team at the University of Cambridge recently used clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) technology to create a bacterium that is resistant to all viral infections.

The team was able to replace more than 18,000 codons with synthetic amino acids. This allowed the team to replace redundant codes by giving their related codes new purposes.  One example being the codes TCG, TCA, AGC, and AGT, all used to make serine. The technology freed up three of the four to do other jobs.

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The bacteria created is able to resist viral infection because it lacks the proteins necessary to infect the cell and these findings could transformation medicine.

Lead author of the study Dr. Jason Chin said, “These bacteria may be turned into renewable and programmable factories that produce a wide range of new molecules with novel properties, which could have benefits for biotechnology and medicine, including making new drugs, such as new antibiotics.”

These new discoveries have the potential to alter or replace the use of antibiotics as a viral treatment.   Many other applications have been identified including removing malaria from mosquitoes, treating Alzheimer’s, treating HIV, new drug development, enhancing livestock and agriculture, and developing cancer treatments.

The findings of the Cambridge team could pave pathways for the treatments of viral infections and health conditions that have affected populations for centuries.  By editing cell DNA, researchers are able to rewrite processes in the human body, making it more capable to fight off infection.

Although these findings have the potential to positively transform the medical field, some worry that not enough is known about the bacterial phages. These capabilities also may have the potential to transform bacteria into potentially harmful ones.  More research and studies have been planned to test the phages to make sure they are safe and effective.