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Salk Scientists Develop New Gene Editing Tool For Live Genetic Modifications

The Salk Institute pictured in this undated photo.

Credit: Milan Kovacevic

Above: The Salk Institute pictured in this undated photo.

Gene editing in live organisms can be challenging. But scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla have created a new tool that could make that easier, as detailed in a new Cell Research journal article released this month.

Human tissue is dynamic. Meaning there are lots of cells, and they all behave in unique ways. Current gene editing techniques in live subjects can have some limitations, because they can’t target a broad range of cell types, said Pradeep Reddy of the Salk Institute.

Listen to this story by Shalina Chatlani.

“So when we want to correct the mutation, we directly make the changes there. Sometimes we can incorporate unwanted changes because of the tool we have,” Reddy said.

To address this, Reddy said, he and his team developed a tool that can avoid making those unwanted changes. It’s called SATI and it utilizes viruses to infect cells. The viruses carry the genetic coding that can fix a mutation.

Salk scientists have tested the tool out in mice, and saw promising results. Though, Reddy said there’s more work to be done.

“There is still quite some room for us to improve this method… so the next step is to try to do clinical studies,” Reddy said.

Reddy said he wants the method to be effective in targeting more organs in the body, rather than just a few.

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Aired: August 30, 2019 | Transcript

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Photo of Shalina Chatlani

Shalina Chatlani
Science and Technology Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover all things science and technology — from the biotech industry in San Diego to rooftop solar energy on new homes. I'm interested in covering the human side of science and technology, like barriers to entry for people of color or gender equity issues on biotech boards.

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