Using CRISPR, new technique facilitates mapping genetic networks


CRISPR-Cas9 facilitates to tweak or knock out a single gene to determine its effect on another cell, an organism, or another gene. But, how would it be if it was possible to carry out several thousand experiments at one time using CRISPR, to modify every gene in the genome quickly and individually see the impact of each.

A team of scientists at University of California, Berkeley have developed an easy way to do just this. It allows anyone to profile a cell, including human cells. In addition, the technique rapidly determines all the DNA sequences in the genome that regulate expressions of specific genes.

For the most part, the technique will benefit basic researchers interested in tracking the cascade of genetic activity. Specifically, it will help track the genetic network that impacts a gene that researchers are interested in, and also help researchers quickly locate the regulatory sequences that influence disease genes and possibly new target for drugs.

New Technique probable to find use for cancer

“Cancer is a disease where researchers might want to use this approach. In fact, the certain genes that express cancer cells, and need to express, in order to survive and grow are known,” said one of the researchers behind the study. “Meanwhile, the tool allows to ask this question: what are the upstream genes, what are the regulators that are control upstream genes that are known to us?”

Therapeutically, these controllers may be easier to target in order to close the cancer cells. Serving as an advantage, the new technique simplifies processes that have been difficult to do so far: backtrack along genetic pathways in a cell to locate these ultimate controllers.

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