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CRISPR gene-editing tested in space for first time in DNA damage study

Date: 2.7.2021 

The CRISPR gene-editing tool has been successfully used in space for the first time. Researchers onboard the International Space Station have edited colonies of yeast to study how they repair DNA damage, which could be the first steps towards finding ways to protect astronauts against the radiation of space.

Kredit: Sebastian Kraves.Having had astronauts visiting, working and living in space for decades now, it’s becoming clear that future spacefarers will be exposed to a whole mess of complications. Thanks to low gravity and high radiation, astronauts can experience loss of muscle mass, and increased risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, leaky gut, Alzheimer’s and cancer.

So for the new study, researchers on a project called Genes In Space investigated whether CRISPR behaved any differently in the microgravity environment of space. The team introduced the CRISPR mechanism to colonies of yeast on the ISS and compared them to control groups here on Earth.

The CRISPR sequence was designed to make a particular type of cut to the DNA of the yeast, called a double-strand break. This kind of injury is often inflicted by cosmic rays, and can be particularly harmful. Also included in the CRISPR kit was a sequence that would stain the colony red after they patched up the damage, allowing the scientists to clearly see which colonies had been edited.




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