Researchers test CRISPR-based COVID-19 therapy

June 5, 2020

A team of scientists from Stanford University have joined forces with researchers at Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry to test a gene-targeting, antiviral agent against COVID-19.

Last year, a Stanford University team began working on a technique called PAC-MAN — or Prophylactic Antiviral CRISPR in human cells — that uses the gene-editing tool CRISPR to fight influenza. Since March, the team has been collaborating with researchers at the Biological Nanostructures Facility at Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry to develop a system that delivers PAC-MAN into the cells of a patient, hoping that, ultimately, PAC-MAN can neutralize the coronavirus and stop it from replicating inside cells.

In late April, the Stanford researchers tested a type of lipitoid that self-assembles with DNA and RNA into PAC-MAN carriers in a sample of human epithelial lung cells. The results were encouraging.  Next they will test the PAC-MAN/lipitoid system in an animal model against a live SARS-CoV-2 virus.

If successful, two groups hope to further develop PAC-MAN/lipitoid therapies for SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses, and to explore scaling up their experiments for preclinical tests.

Read the story in Science Daily