Scientists have used CRISPR tools for identifying and detecting diseases like HIV, ALS and Huntington’s disease. The scientists are actually harnessing technology similar to CRISPR in order to develop cheap devices that can quickly diagnose infections. The new systems developed have to potential to detect and respond to viruses like HPV and Zika, especially in developing countries.
The tools are developed by Jennifer Doudna and Feng Zhang, who are the pioneers behind CRISPR. Their research was published in the journal Science. Here, Doudna’s team describes a system called DETECTR. DETECTR can accurately identify different types of the HPV virus in human samples. And Zhang’s team presented an upgraded version of SHERLOCK. SHERLOCK can detect viruses like Zika and dengue, as well as other harmful bacteria in human samples.
These two different versions of CRISPR show and prove the enormous potential of CRISPR tools and not just to edit genomes. The scientists are engineering a mechanism to edit pieces of the genetic code and try to cure diseases with it.
However, it is quite certain that both DETECTR and SHERLOCK need more work. But, in developing countries that lack state-of-the-art facilities, this could be a blessing. Scientists and researchers are working on ensuring that these systems are incredibly accurate before they’re used with actual patients.