Scientists Use CRISPR-Cas9 as ‘DNA Scissors’ to Cut Out Alzheimer’s Gene in Mice, Study Shows

Scientists Use CRISPR-Cas9 as ‘DNA Scissors’ to Cut Out Alzheimer’s Gene in Mice, Study Shows
Using the gene editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 like a pair of "DNA scissors," researchers were able to essentially cut out the beta-secretase 1 (BACE1) gene in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, a study shows. Deleting this gene — which drives the production of amyloid-β proteins in the brain that can accumulate on the outsides of neurons — resulted in better cognitive function and lower levels of amyloid-beta plaques, a key hallmark of the disease, the researchers said. The study, “In vivo neuronal gene editing via CRISPR–Cas9 amphiphilic nanocomplexes alleviates deficits in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease,” was published in Nature Neuroscience. Genetics, or the DNA in cells that make up a person's genes, are known to be a key factor that contribute toward the development of Alzheimer’s. Several genes linked to the neurodegenerative disease have been identified. New technologies such as CRISPR are allowing scientists to treat diseases with a genetic background directly at the source of the problem: the mutated DNA. CRISPR/Cas9 is a unique technology that enables researchers to edit parts of the genome — an organism's complete set of DNA, including all of its genes — by removing, adding, or altering sections of the DNA sequence. Much like a tailor-made suit, genes can be “designed” to adequately and specifically serve the researchers’ needs. In this study, CRISPR-Cas9 was used like a pair of "DNA scissors" to cut out the BACE1 gene — known to be linked to Alzheimer’s — from nerve cells, or neurons, in the brains of adult mice. Expression of this gene results in the production of an enzyme called BACE1 that breaks down the amyloid precursor protein (APP) into amyloid-beta. When there is too much amyloid-beta in
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