A team of leading Russian biologists has started a scientific project to develop new systems for editing the human genome.
The project affects all levels of genome organisation up to the spatial structure of DNA molecules, including with the help of CRISPR technology, which is currently actively used in genome editing. However, this technology is considered far from perfect, which is why scientists decided to develop new tools that would allow editing the genome with greater accuracy.
The first step of the programme included searching for bacterial CRISPR loci, studying genome architecture, and looking for ways to change the spatial structure of the genome. In the future, the scientists plan to analyse methods for regulating the functioning of the genome using argonaut proteins, which is one of the main lines of work in treating genetic diseases.
According to the project leader, an Associated Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Dr Sci. Sergey Razin, genome editing technologies can control the implementation of genetic information without changing the genome. He said, “If you modify technology to the point where it works as a regulator of gene expression, you don't make editing mistakes. Standard editing is not completely selective, because changes are made not only where needed, but also where you would not like to see them.” In the past, it was not possible to change standard genome editing, but now Russian scientists are more optimistic about this.
As a result of the project, the team plans to create the first lines of transgenic plants, develop a set of genomic-embryonic technologies for animal husbandry, and work out new methods for editing and modelling hereditary diseases on a collection of laboratory mice with altered genomes.
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