CRISPR is a unique structure of repetitive DNA sequences that are an important part of the immune system of microorganisms (such as bacteria). CRISPR has the ability, in the event of an attack by a viral infection, to destroy its genome, thereby preventing its spread.
Using this process, scientists have developed CRISPR technology that allows you to make changes to the DNA of humans, animals and plants. In other words, humanity has come close to the possibility of gene editing.
Japanese researcher Nureki Osamu, together with his colleagues from the University of Tokyo and Kanazawa University, filmed for the first time unique footage where the CRISPR-Cas9 system literally "bites" into a piece of DNA in real time.
It was possible to shoot unique frames thanks to a high-speed microscope, which includes a micromechanical cantilever probe. Its pointed end is constantly approaching the surface under study, then moving away from it. Changes in the cantilever deflections during the microscope operation are recorded by a laser and, with the help of a computer, creates the resulting image.
CRISPR technology was first used to remove the HIV genome in mice and to alter the genome of dogs, which allowed for the development of a breed with increased muscle mass. As a result of gene editing, it was possible to accelerate the growth of crops and create new types of antimicrobial treatments. The film, shot by Japanese scientists, will help to gain a deeper understanding of these complex processes.