Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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New technique CRISPR-HOT being used to genetically modify - organoids - lab-grown mini organs

30 March 2020

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Like an artist doing a small pencil sketch before a large painting, researchers always aim to run small scale experiments before interfering with human patients. Organoids are a great sketch pad: simple, lab-grown mini-organs that share basic properties with various organs. Modifying their genetics would give researchers more scope to investigate disease development, but has proven difficult. A new tool, CRISPR-HOT – an amended version of CRISPR-Cas9 which lets researchers tinker precisely with a cell’s DNA – has shown it's possible. Using it to add a fluorescent label to organoid DNA, such as the liver cells pictured, makes key structures (such as the blue structural skeleton) crystal clear for observation. As well as illuminating these key structures, the researchers highlighted how the technique might be used on many types of organoid to answer essential questions about health and disease by investigating how abnormal cell division can lead to cancer.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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