“Cas13 can degrade both target and non-target RNAs at random,” making it difficult to design experiments and interpret results when using Cas13, the researchers explained on the CAS website.
But “the CRISPR-based gene editing tool does not permanently change the genome, and the effects of editing are controllable, reversible, and safer,” he added.
System to detect the collateral effects
Yang and colleagues described how they created a system to detect the collateral effects of Cas13 in mammalian cells, which they then used to create a large number of variants.
“In short, Cas13 variants with minimal collateral effect we developed are expected to be more competitive for in vivo RNA editing and future therapeutic applications,” the authors concluded in the study.
Earlier, Feng Zhang, a gene-editing researcher at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and one of the CRISPR pioneers, created the Rescue platform, which used Cas13 to edit RNA.
“By developing this new enzyme and combining it with the programmability and precision of CRISPR, we were able to fill a critical gap in the toolbox,” Zhang said in 2019.
The study was originally published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Biotechnology.