New diagnostic CRISPR test can identify Zika and antibiotic resistance
Researchers have used the gene editing technology CRISPR — Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats — to create a diagnostic test capable of identifying viral infections, bacterial infections and cancer, according to research published in the journal Science.
The diagnostic system called SHERLOCK — Specific High Sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter UnLOCKing — works by targeting RNA changes that occur during infection. With SHERLOCK, researchers were able to identify Zika in serum, urine and saliva. Next, the test proved effective at identifying bacterial pneumonia and was even able to discern between different types of drug resistance among the bacterial strains. Lastly, the test proved effective at identifying genetic mutations associated with cancer.
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The high sensitivity of the testing system opens the possibility of new rapid and robust molecular diagnostic systems, according to a release.
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