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28 апреля 2018, 15:11

At-Home CRISPR Test Helps Detect Disease


Stay on target

zikaGenome-editing superweapon CRISPR is typically confined to scientific labs. But a new biotech company wants to bring it to the masses.

San Francisco-based Mammoth Biosciences is developing a paper-and-smartphone-app test for easier disease detection.

Famed for its ability to precisely rewrite DNA, the CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat) has been hailed as the single most important discovery of the 21st century.

And Mammoth Biosciences is trying to democratize access to it.

“We’ve come so far in terms of technology, but still there are all these barriers in between us and having real access to understanding our health and our bodies and the environment around us more generally,” CEO Trevor Martin told The Verge.

Enter CRISPR.

“This is the type of technology that really breaks down those barriers,” he added.

Last month, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine used CRISPR-Cas9 to identify specific genes that help protect against a toxic protein that causes ALS.

Scientists at UC Berkeley and MIT, meanwhile, developed tools that pair CRISPR with enzymes Cas12 and Cas13 to identify conditions like Zika, dengue, and HPV, as well as bacteria and cancer mutations.

As described by Mammoth, the CRISPR protein pairs with a guide RNA to hunt for a specific DNA or RNA sequence that is unique to a certain disease or trait. This, of course, is happening at a microscopic level. So to see the reaction without special instruments, a reporter molecule is required.

Once the enzyme finds its matching target, the protein breaks apart the reporter molecule, producing a color change that’s visible to the naked eye, indicating the presence of a specific DNA or RNA sequence.

What sounds like a complicated process, however, can be streamlined for the public. According to The Verge, the tech might work like a home pregnancy test. Except that instead of peeing on a stick, you can use urine, blood, or saliva to evaluate whether you have a sexually transmitted infection or a particular strain of flu—or both.

The current prototype allows users to take a photo of their results, which are analyzed via a smartphone application.

“We’re moving to commercialize it quickly and have it available in the next few years,” Martin said.

Without revealing test costs, he told The Verge this technology will be “accessible and affordable.”

Mammoth Biosciences did not immediately respond to Geek’s request for comment.

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Source: https://www.geek.com/science/at-home-crispr-test-helps-detect-disease-1738369/?source=science