The new method will rapidly deploy newly discovered bacterial CRISPR systems in disease-specific applications
Merck, a science and technology company, has developed a new genome editing tool that makes CRISPR more efficient, flexible and specific, giving researchers more experimental options and faster results that can accelerate drug development and access to new therapies. It is an alternative CRISPR genome editing method that advances new possibilities for research, creating a way to rapidly deploy newly discovered bacterial CRISPR systems in disease-specific applications
Reportedly, this new technique, called ‘proxy-CRISPR,’ provides access to previously unreachable areas of the genome. Most natural CRISPR systems, found in bacteria, cannot work in human cells without significant re-engineering. However, proxy-CRISPR provides a rapid and simple method to increase their usability without the laborious need to re-engineer native CRISPR proteins.
The company has filed patent applications on the proxy-CRISPR technology. These patent applications directed to the proxy-CRISPR technology are just some of several CRISPR patent application filings made by the company since 2012.
“With more flexible and easy-to-use genome editing technologies, there is greater potential in research, bioprocessing and novel treatment modalities,” said Udit Batra , Member of the Merck Executive Board and CEO, Life Science .
CRISPR genome editing technology is advancing treatment options for some of the toughest medical conditions faced today, including chronic illnesses and cancers for which there are limited or no treatment options. The applications of CRISPR are far ranging—from identifying genes associated with cancer to reversing mutations that cause blindness. CRISPR enables genome editing using an enzyme called Cas9 to cut DNA, but this has limited targeting abilities. This limitation led to Merck’s focus on proxy-CRISPR.