Author: Sara Hussein, AFP
Tokyo (AFP) - For years, scientists have used a tool something like a pair of scissors for the complex task of gene-editing, but a newly discovered technique using "jumping genes" could offer a seamless, safer alternative.
Gene-editing is the process of altering a part of DNA -- the code that governs much about how an organism develops and behaves. It can correct or delete parts of that code, or insert sections, for reasons that include preventing disease.
A key tool for editing is the CRISPR-Cas9 process, which uses CRISPRs -- a part of the immune defence system in bacteria -- to locate a target in the DNA, and the protein Cas9 to "snip" the DNA strand.
The DNA then repairs itself, sometimes guided by a template that is inserted during the editing process.
But the process is not always effective -- sometimes the repairs are incomplete, or incorrect, and the damage response prompted by the cutting can have negative side effects.
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