CRISPR holds promise for the treatment of cancer and inherited disorders, as you know, but what about infectious diseases? It can do many useful things indeed, according to this review by Jeffrey Strich and Daniel Chertow, published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.
First, CRISPR technology provides tools that promise to clarify fundamental host and microbe interactions, guiding the rational design of targeted therapies and vaccines. Second: it is being used to develop new portable diagnostic tests, also for coronaviruses.
Third, early investigations into CRISPR-based therapies are focusing on the prevention and treatment of drug-resistant bacteria and persistent viral infections. The latest application is PAC-MAN, a viral inhibition strategy that can effectively degrade Sars-CoV2 sequences and live influenza A virus genome in human epithelial cells.
Moving forward with CRISPR systems as treatments will require safe delivery methods, but the review’s authors are cautiously optimistic. “While these challenges are formidable, they are not insurmountable, suggesting that a future infectious disease community might routinely integrate CRISPR technology into daily practice,” they write.