For the first time, researchers at the George Washington University (GW), with colleagues at institutes in Thailand, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, have successfully used the gene-editing tool CRISPR/Cas9 to limit the impact of parasitic worms responsible for schistosomiasis and liver fluke infection.
Their findings were reported in two papers published in the journal eLife. CRISPR/Cas9 is a technology that allows researchers to precisely target and deactivate the genetic information needed to produce a particular protein.
“The genes we ‘knocked out’ using CRISPR/Cas9 resulted in markedly diminished symptoms of infection in our animal models,” said Paul Brindley, PhD, professor of microbiology, immunology, and tropical medicine at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences and lead author of the paper. “Our research also showed that this revolutionary new biomedical procedure — CRISPR/Cas9 — can be adapted to study helminth parasites, which are a major public health problem in tropical climates.”