Saturday, March 18, 2017

Silkworms Can Now Kill Viruses

Chinese researchers have developed a way to turn silkworms into virus shredders. CAS9, a tool derived from bacteria that has been used widely to genetically modify animal and human cells, was edited to recognize and attack Bombyx mori nucleopolyhedrovirus. This virus causes over 80% of unnatural silkworm deaths in China. 

The new CAS9 was injected into silkworm eggs, and produced a transgenic species that can generate CAS9 in cells. New worms were able to resist Bombyx virus infection. The genome edit is permanent, and can be passed on to the next generation. The CAS9 was also developed to target 4 different locations on a virus in order to avoid viral resistance through mutations. There is hope that this technology can be transferred to other animal and even human viruses. 

-Anne Sommer
*written before Muzz published his post

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