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NEW YORK – Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have developed a gene editing approach they call very fast CRISPR (vfCRISPR) that is capable of creating double-strand breaks (DSBs) in seconds, and at the submicrometer scale.

During gene editing, it can take hours for a guide RNA (gRNA) to guide the Cas9 nuclease to the correct DNA sequence. To better control Cas9's action, the researchers caged the gRNA with light-sensitive nucleotides, so that it could bind Cas9 to its DNA target but keep the enzyme from cutting until the gRNA was exposed to light.

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