Genes and proteins in cells interact in many different ways. Each dot represents a gene; the lines are their interactions
Genes and proteins in cells interact in many different ways. Each dot represents a gene; the lines are their interactions.
Visualisation: ETH Zurich/Carlo Cosimo Campa

06.09.2019

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Researchers at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, have refined the famous CRISPR-Cas method. Now, for the very first time, it is possible to modify dozens, if not hundreds, of genes in a cell simultaneously.

Everyone is talking about CRISPR-Cas. This biotechnological method offers a relatively quick and easy way to manipulate single genes in cells, meaning they can be precisely deleted, replaced or modified. Furthermore, in recent years, researchers have also been using technologies based on CRISPR-Cas to systematically increase or decrease the activity of individual genes. The corresponding methods have become the world-wide standard within a very short time, both in biological pure research and in applied fields such as plant breeding.

To date, for the most part, researchers have been able to modify only one gene at a time using the method. On occasion, they managed two or three in one go. Now, Professor Randall Platt and his team at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering at ETH Zurich in Basel, Switzerland, have developed a process that – as they demonstrated in experiments – can modify 25 target sites within genes in a cell at once.

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