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Gene-Editing Technology may Replace Antibiotics in the Future

by Mike Barrett, Natural Society:

Doctors and researchers are in a race against the clock to find new antibiotics and alternatives to antibiotics as the problem of drug-resistance worsens and spreads. One bacterial superbug in particular which has researchers especially worried is Clostridium difficile, or C. difficile – a bacterium which can cause fatal infections in hospitals and nursing homes. Scientists are now working on a “pill” that uses CRISPR gene-editing technology to kill the harmful bacteria. [1]

Considered a probiotic, the technology is still in its infancy and is yet to be tested on animals. Jan-Peter van Pijkeren, a food scientist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison who is the creator of the CRISPR pill (which could also be given in liquid form), says:

“The downside of antibiotics is they are a sledgehammer that depletes and destroys the gut microbial community. You want to instead use a scalpel in order to specifically eradicate the microbe of interest.”

The idea behind using CRISPR to defeat antibiotic-resistant bacteria is that it could kill a single species of germ while leaving the beneficial bacteria unharmed.

Herbert DuPont, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases at the University of Texas, says:

“As long as we house patients together in a hospital or in a nursing home and we give a lot of them antibiotics we’re going to have a problem with C. difficile.”

Here’s how it works:

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