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originally posted by: Buvvy
George Washington University has a BSL2 lab and it is located in downtown Washington D.C.
If things go south at least the politicians that approved the budget for this kind of biological tinkering will be impacted first.
a reply to: beyondknowledge
CRISPR was designed to eliminate ultraspecific genetic defects like these by cutting through targeted sequences of DNA with a scalpel-like enzyme called Cas9. After Cas9 severs DNA in the appointed spot, that segment of DNA naturally starts to repair itself. Through this method, problem genes can be swiftly removed, and sometimes custom genetic sequences can even be added into the break site before the DNA seals itself up again.
Previous studies of CRISPR have not shown many unforeseen genetic mutations caused by this precise slicing action, but those studies may not have been looking hard enough, Bradley said.
"The consequences of [CRISPR-induced mutations] can be literally millions of base pairs away from the break site," Bradley said.
In their new study, Bradley and his colleagues used CRISPR to edit a series of mouse-derived stem cells, then systematically looked at the cells' DNA base pairs, moving farther and farther away from the cut site. Through this meticulous approach, the researchers found that roughly 15 percent of the studied cells were being mutated so much that they lost their function.
"In the simplest form, these mutations are deletions of large amounts of DNA," Bradley said (in some cases, thousands of DNA base pairs went missing after being manipulated by CRISPR). "But there are much more complex versions as well."
For example, Bradley said, the team detected cases where sequences of genetic code were "scrambled" or inserted into the strand backward. In some cases, long sequences of DNA that should have been thousands of base pairs away were inadvertently stitched into the CRISPR cut site. In other cases, sequences of code nowhere near the cut site — some located millions of base pairs away — were similarly mutated.
After looking at many different locations along the cell's DNA, the team then turned to other types of cells, including human-derived stem cells grown in the lab, to see if the damage pattern was repeated. Their observations remained consistent: About 15 percent of CRISPR-manipulated cells were being unintentionally mutated in dramatic ways.