Gene Drive: Engineered viruses take on their own kind in a new study

Rizwan Choudhury,  Interesting Engineering,  2023.

Scientists are exploring a radical idea to combat viral infections: use viruses against themselves. They are testing whether introducing modified viruses into people with the same natural viruses can spread a gene that destroys the infection. This has yet to be done successfully in animals, but a study has shown it is possible in theory. The technique uses gene drives, tools that use CRISPR, a gene editing system, to speed up gene transmission in the offspring.

Gene drives have been used to alter animals like mice and mosquitoes to reduce their numbers. But a recent study showed that gene drives can also work with herpesvirus-1 (HSV-1), which causes cold sores. When mice were infected with both normal and modified herpesviruses, the gene drive changed up to 90% of the viruses, which could prevent the infection from causing symptoms. Another study achieved similar results with HSV-1 in cells in the lab.

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