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Giving It a Try

Researchers are exploring whether gene modification tools like CRISPR could help treat diseases like Alzheimer's, Massive Science reports.

While there is optimism surrounding potential applications of gene editing to a range of conditions, Massive Science notes such an approach would not be without difficulties, especially when applied to diseases of the central nervous system. There is, it adds, the issue of not only getting CRISPR or other machinery into cells, but also getting it across the blood-brain barrier to affected cells of the brain.

But, it says researchers are working on these problems. For instance, a team in Korea led by Dongguk University's Jongpil Kim reported in Nature Neuroscience this year that it had developed CRISPR–Cas9 nanocomplexes that could work in mouse brains.

"Realistically, the odds of an Alzheimer's cure being forged out of innovations in genetic technology, sadly, remain exceedingly slim," it writes, adding that there is still much to be learned about the brain and brain disorders. "Still, CRISPR's tremendous contributions to Alzheimer's research drive progress and continue to inspire even a little bit of hope."

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