CRISPR, an enzyme that can edit the genome, is now being used to diagnose the presence of cancer and test for infections such as the Zika virus. Feng Zhang an associate professor at MIT and colleagues changed the way the system works in order for it to detect active infections. They modified this enzyme to recognize specific substances made by bacteria and viruses. SHERLOCK, the name of this modified system can tell the difference between the Zika and Dengue viruses through presented samples of blood, urine, and saliva. This new system is a major break for doctors because it works faster than current test. Based on their data, SHERLOCK can identify the infection within 30 minutes to an hour, versus a few days for a current test. Aside from this, Professor Zhang was also able to determine that this system can tell doctors how involved the infection is based on how much is present within the body, and it can pick up mutations such as tumors through blood samples. Professor Zhang is confident that this new technology will also help to fight again antibiotic-resistant infections because it can detect if an infection is becoming resistant to a drug.
I found this article interesting because it has the possibility to save the lives of many patients, and makes it easier for doctors and other healthcare professionals to properly treat and care for patients.
This is also interesting because it goes to show how gene editing technology can change the way healthcare professionals and scientist look at solving issues related to bacterial and viral infections.