University of Florida researchers have found a new use for “genetic scissors” to detect RNA, a discovery that could lead to faster, more accurate and less expensive diagnostic tests for a host of diseases.
The genetic scissors are a protein complex known as CRISPR-Cas12a. Until now, it had only been known to bind and cleave DNA, a molecule that holds life-giving genetic codes. Knowing that the genetic scissors can also bind RNA — the genetic cousin to DNA — gives scientists a crucial shortcut for designing future medical diagnostic tests.
By directly targeting RNA, tests for hepatitis, HIV, cancer and other disorders also might become simpler and less prone to false positives, said Piyush K. Jain, Ph.D., the study’s lead investigator, a Shah Rising Star assistant professor of chemical engineering and an affiliate assistant professor of molecular genetics in the UF College of Medicine. The group’s findings were published recently in the journal Nature Communications.Read more about UF Researchers’ Genetic Detection Discovery Has Implications for Medical Diagnostic Testing.