Scientists have succeeded by genetic engineering to suppress the reproduction of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in human cells. The gene editing tool is based on the CRISPR-Cas13b enzyme. As you know, it binds to RNA targets and destroys the very part of the genome that is needed for replication within cells.
Researchers have already tested the effectiveness of this method in the laboratory using infected human cells. It turned out that as a result of the experiment, scientists were able to suppress the replication of various variants of the virus. By the way, the method worked for new strains as well. Previously, WHO classified them in the group with the highest threat assessment VOC (Variants of Concern).
The authors of the study note that the new method not only suppresses the replication of the virus, but also prevents its new variants from escaping from the host’s immunity. The computer model allows screening the entire genome with a resolution of up to one nucleotide, and the CRISPR-Cas13b method of reprogramming genomic and subgenomic SARS-CoV-2 RNAs provides up to 98% efficiency in suppressing the expression of the corresponding genes.
The authors of the study are confident that the new method will be an important step in the fight against COVID-19. The article was published in the journal Nature Communications.