The first-ever gene-hacking tool was developed, which can target specific organs or cells that medical experts want to edit, including particular areas of the human brain. The Tufts University biomedical engineers designed the new injection to alter cells in the immune system, target organs, such as the liver, and cross the blood-brain that protects the brain.

Researchers Develop a New Gene-Hacking Tool Capable of EDITING a Human Brain
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Plastinated slices of the human brain, marked with red dots to indicate that only institutions may buy them, lie on display for sale for up to EUR 625 each at the shop of the Plastinarium on May 28, 2010 in Guben, Germany. The Plastinarium is a museum, teaching center and body preparations facility for anatomist Gunther von Hagens, whose Body Worlds exhibitions have traveled across the globe. Through his plastination procedure von Hagens is able to prevent the human body from decomposing and exhibits the bodies to further understanding of anatomy.

The tool allows scientists to edit specific brain cells, as well. The results of the study were published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

How the gene-editing tool works

According to the research, the new injection can lead to a straightforward way to perform genetic treatments since it is directly injected into the bloodstream. The new technology was first tested on lab mice, but it was suggested that the tool should also work on people.

Researchers Develop a New Gene-Hacking Tool Capable of EDITING a Human Brain
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Nicole Briggs looks at a real human brain being displayed as part of new exhibition at the @Bristol attraction on March 8, 2011 in Bristol, England. The Real Brain exhibit - which comes with full consent from a anonymous donor and needed full consent from the Human Tissue Authority - is suspended in liquid with a engraved full scale skeleton on one side and a diagram of the central nervous system on the other and is a key feature of the All About Us exhibition opening this week.

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"We created a method around tailoring the delivery package for a wide range of potential therapeutics, including gene editing," said Qiaobing Xu, the study's lead author.  Xu and his team modified the delivery packed, depending on the type of cell they want to edit, whether it is better at equipping a brain cell, to treat a neurological condition, or an immune system cell, to fight particular cancer.

The gene-hacking injection is unlike any other

The new injection allows the gene-editing enzymes to stick to specific cell types by attaching different proteins onto the surface, which can't be done by the previous gene-hacking technologies.

"The methods draw upon combinatorial chemistry used by the pharmaceutical industry for designing the drugs themselves, but instead we are applying the approach to designing the components of the delivery vehicle," added the lead author.

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Written by: Giuliano de Leon.

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