In a big breakthrough, researchers from Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have turned a CRISPR gene-editing technology into an antiviral to fight against RNA-based viruses in human cells. This antiviral can be programmed to detect and wipe out these RNA-based viruses.
RNA-based viruses like Ebola, Zika and flu are very common and very deadly. Researchers discovered that CRISPR-Cas13 (which “naturally targets viral RNA in bacteria”) could be used as a virus-fighting entity. They created CARVER (Cas13-Assisted Restriction of Viral Expression and Readout), that utilizes the CRISPR Cas13 to create a single system that could potentially diagnose and treat a viral infection.
Senior author Pardis Sabeti at the Broad Institute, said, “Human viral pathogens are extremely diverse and constantly adapting to their environment, even within a single species of virus, which underscores both the challenge and need for flexible antiviral platforms,”
“Our work establishes CARVER as a powerful and rapidly programmable diagnostic and antiviral technology for a wide variety of these viruses.”