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Published on : Jul 08, 2019

Scientists at the UNC School of Medicine have been successful in creating a new ‘directed evolution’ technique. It’s a powerful technique that helps in the fast development of new scientific tools and treatments for several diseases.

These findings are now published in ‘Cell’ journal. Scientists gave a demonstration of the technique by evolving numerous proteins to help them perform accurate tasks. Further, researchers carried out each demonstration in few days. Current methods of directed evolution are highly time-consuming and quite laborious. Usually, the technique is applicable to bacterial cells, which consequently limits the advantages of this technology.

A Path towards Better Therapeutics

An artificial technique, directed evolution speeds up the natural process of evolution. The motive behind this technology is to create evolve cells that can perform specific tasks. This technique is also beneficial in developing new therapeutics that can help to tackle diseases without much side effects. The initial scientific research on the directed evolution won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2018.

Justin English, Ph.D. working at the Pharmacology Department headed the research. He believes that this new technique for directed evolution will help in accelerating the research and in the end, will lead to the development of better therapeutics for masses.

The new method of directed evolution is relatively flexible, quick, and easy. The technique uses the Sindbis virus as the carrier of a gene that needs modification. Then, researchers induce the virus in cells in a culture dish and allow to mutate at a fast pace. Further, scientists set the lab conditions such that only mutant genes that can encode proteins survive. These genes can then perform tasks within the cells such as activating certain receptors. The system works in the cells of mammals and thus can be used to modify cells of mice, humans, or other mammals.