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NCI Cancer Center News

Powerful gene-editing tool appears to cause off-target mutations in human cells

  • Posted: June 24, 2013

In the past year a group of synthetic proteins called CRISPR-Cas RNA-guided nucleases (RGNs) have generated great excitement in the scientific community as gene-editing tools. Exploiting a method that some bacteria use to combat viruses and other pathogens, CRISPR-Cas RGNs can cut through DNA strands at specific sites, allowing the insertion of new genetic material. However, a team of researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (a component of the Dana-Farber Cancer Research Institute) has found a significant limitation to the use of CRISPR-Cas RGNs, production of unwanted DNA mutations at sites other than the desired target.

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NCI comprehensive cancer centers logoAmong the research institutions NCI funds across the United States, it currently designates 67 as Cancer Centers. Largely based in research universities, these facilities are home to many of the NCI-supported scientists who conduct a wide range of intense, laboratory research into cancer’s origins and development. The Cancer Centers Program also focuses on trans-disciplinary research, including population science and clinical research. The centers’ research results are often at the forefront of studies in the cancer field.