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Someday, CRISPR-based tools could be used to combat pandemics like COVID-19, Wired writes.

In a proof-of-concept study, researchers from Stanford University used a tool they developed called Prophylactic Antiviral Crispr in huMAN cells or PAC-MAN, after the video game, to target and inhibit SARS-CoV-2. Stanford's Lei Qi and colleagues report encouraging results in a preprint at bioRxiv, namely that they could effectively target and cut RNA sequences from SARS-CoV-2 fragments in lung epithelial cell cultures.

Wired notes that a treatment based on this is nowhere near ready and won't be for quite some time. The researchers, for instance, did not have SARS-CoV-2 samples and had to rely on synthetic versions of the virus. Additionally, other researchers tell Wired that viral kinetics would have to be taken into consideration and there'd have to be a way to deliver the PAC-MAN tool to patients' cells.

Still, the University of California, Berkeley's Fyodor Urnov tells it that the study's findings are "an important, but far from the only, tile in the overall jigsaw puzzle of how to take on emerging viral threats to human health."