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CRISPR-Based Method for Finding Cancer-Associated Exosomal MicroRNAs in Blood

In a paper appearing in ACS Sensors, researchers at Zhengzhou University outline a CRISPR gene editing approach for finding potential exosomal microRNA-based cancer biomarkers. The "liposome-mediated membrane fusion strategy" (MFS) involves CRISPR-Cas13a transfection into the cells' exosome, the team explains, making it possible to detect exosomal miRNAs such as miR-21, a miRNA linked to breast cancer. When they applied MFS-CRISPR to plasma samples from 10 individuals with breast cancer and 10 unaffected control individuals, for example, the authors saw an uptick in miR-21 expression in the breast cancer cases that was supported by independent RT-qPCR-based testing. Based on these and other results, "we proposed [an] MFS-CRISPR platform for detection of exosomal miRNAs with high specificity and sensitivity," they write, noting that "the proposed method may have potential for cancer diagnosis and treatment monitoring."