New Virus-Like Particles Can Deliver CRISPR to Any Cell in the Body


This month, a team at Harvard led by Dr. David Liu launched a new generation of molecular carriers inspired by viruses.

This month, a team at Harvard led by Dr. David Liu launched a new generation of molecular carriers inspired by viruses. Dubbed engineered virus-like particles (eVLPs), these bubble-like carriers can deliver CRISPR and base editing components to a myriad of organs with minimal side effects.

Compared to previous generations, the new and improved eVLPs are more efficient at landing on target, releasing their cargo, and editing cells. As a proof of concept, the system restored vision in a mouse model of genetic blindness, disabled a gene associated with high cholesterol levels, and fixed a malfunctioning gene inside the brain. Even more impressive, it’s a plug-and-play system: by altering the targeting component, it’s in theory possible for the bubbles to land anywhere in the body. It’s like easily rejiggering a Mars-targeting spaceship for Jupiter or beyond.

“There’s so much need for a better way to deliver proteins into various tissues in animals and patients,” said Liu. “We’re hopeful that these eVLPs might be useful not just for the delivery of base editors, but also other therapeutically relevant proteins.”

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