CRISPR gene editing it is no longer confined to Earth. Astronaut Christina Koch and scientists successfully demonstrated CRISPR-Cas9 for the first time in space, using it as part of a new technique to damage DNA and study how it is repaired in microgravity. “Technical and safety issues” prevented earlier studies like this, according to researchers.
The experiment produced a particularly harmful double-stranded DNA break in yeast cell culture on the International Space Station. Koch had done the test before (most of the stock reached the ISS in May 2019), but finds were not available until last week.
The new approach paves the way for other research on DNA repair in space. With enough work, scientists hope to be able to replicate genetic damage ionizing radiation, not to mention the other effects of long-term space flight. This, in turn, could help NASA and other agencies develop technology that protects astronauts and makes deep space exploration practical. There is a chance that CRISPR could play an important role bringing people to Mars and beyond.
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