Using Computers to Explore Options

Source:  MIT Technology Review, Sep 2015

Scientists in Boston have come up with a twist on an important method for “editing” genomes that could give researchers added control over the DNA of living things and influence a raging patent dispute over the powerful techniques.

Feng Zhang, a researcher at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, reported today in the journal Cell that he had developed a replacement for a key component of the genome-engineering system commonly known as CRISPR-Cas9.

Eugene Koonin, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health who coauthored the paper in Cell, said the current work began with computer predictions of proteins in bacteria that might serve a similar cutting role as Cas9. “It is indeed a new system that is substantially different than the previously known one,” he says.

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