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Chewed to Bits

Some scientists are turning to CRISPR-Cas3 rather than the more commonly known CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool to tackle antibiotic resistance, according to Gizmodo.

CRISPR-Cas9 has caught numerous researchers' imagination as it can make relatively precise cuts in the genome. But CRISPR-Cas3 is a little less precise. "If CRISPR-Cas9 is a genetic scalpel, Cas3 is a chainsaw," Gizmodo writes.

Still, though, Cas3 may have its uses. North Carolina State University's Rodolphe Barrangou has started a company called Locus Biosciences to use CRISPR-Cas3 to develop anti-microbials against bacteria like Clostridium difficileEscherichia coli, and MRSA that are increasingly resistant to antibiotics, Gizmodo says. He tells the site that Cas3 could be used to chew up bacterial DNA so that it's beyond being fixed and is lethal to the cell.

"If we can use CRISPR to selectively target a particular bacterial genotype and eradicate it, we can leave the rest of the microbiome intact. It's like a smart antibiotic," Barrangou says. He adds that his firm has had success in using this approach in mice infected with E. coli.

Gizmodo notes that he's not the only one trying to apply CRISPR to the issue of antibiotic resistance. In France, Eligo Biosciences is also trying the same idea.

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