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Genetic Mutations detection in minutes with new CRISPR-powered device

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In a breakthrough research published recently, genetic mutations can now be detected within few minutes with a new CRISPR-powered device named as CRISPR-Chip.

Scientists at UC Berkeley and the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) of The Claremont Colleges have claimed to successfully combine CRISPR technology with graphene based electronic transistors to make a hand held device that can detect specific genetic mutations within minutes.

The research is published on March 25 in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering

The device CRISPR-Chip was used to detect mutations of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The device can be used to quickly identify genetic mutations which now take many days.


(UC Berkeley video by Roxanne Makasdjian and Stephen McNally)

Technological advantage

Unlike previous technologies to detect genetic mutations, CRISPR-Chip uses nano electronics to detect the genetic mutation without need for “target amplification” or “library preparation”.

In CRISPR technology, the Cas9 protein is coupled with guide RNA which is able to detect specific genetic mutation and cut it.

How CRISPR Works

The technology behind the device use a variant of Cas9 protein which is deactivated. This deactivated Cas9 protein can detect the target by binding to the site but not able to perform the gene editing function.

In CRISPR-Chip, when the deactivated Cas9 complex finds the mutation, it bind to the site and triggers a series of signal in the attached graphene transistor which is detected by a hand held device. There is no need of PCR amplification.

The potential that the results are available within minutes, make this a breakthrough technology for point of care diagnostics. Till now, there is no point of care genetic diagnosis technology. Even the basic of genetic tests takes several days to be reported.

Related article: Top 5 Genetic Testing companies in India

CRISPR-Chip technology could also be used as a validating and effectiveness monitoring tool to the CRISPR gene editing.

The team which worked on this technology is hopeful to multiplex the chip with different Cas9 labelled with different targets.

Well, it is still a long way till this technology can be used as a safe, reliable, economical point of care diagnostics. But this has opened a completely new era of advanced point of care, may be, “4th Generation” of genetic diagnostic technology.

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