Astronauts have successfully used CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology in space for the first time, says the Genes in Space initiative. The technology was used on the International Space Station (ISS) to induce targeted breaks in the yeast genome. The purpose of the experiment is to track the molecular changes the yeast makes as it repairs the breaks, in order to see if it can provide insights on how cells repair their DNA in space.
The CRISPR-induced DNA lesions are intended to mimic genetic damage caused by cosmic radiation, a serious risk facing space travelers, Genes in Space adds.
This study was developed by researchers and engineers at NASA's Johnson Space Center, the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, miniPCR Bio, and Boeing. It was designed by a team of students who won the 2018 Genes in Space contest while attending Mounds View High School and Woodbury High School in Minnesota. NASA microbiologists Sarah Wallace and Sarah Stahl helped them develop the idea, and astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Hague executed the experiment, according to Genes in Space.