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Zinc fingers could open the door for gene therapy

At the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Carl June and colleagues are using a new genetic editing technique to disrupt a gene in patients’ T cells, the type attacked by the AIDS virus, that some hope may revive gene therapy. The technique, which depends on natural agents called zinc fingers, overcomes the inability to insert new genes at a chosen site.

The NY Times explains that "zinc fingers are essential components of proteins used by living cells to turn genes on and off. Their name derives from the atom of zinc that holds two loops of protein together to form a “finger.” Because the fingers recognize specific sequences of DNA, they guide the control proteins to the exact site where their target gene begins."

A clinical trial is now under way to see if the treated cells will reconstitute an AIDS patient’s immune system and defeat the virus. Click "source" for more.


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