The challenge is delivering all these components into the appropriate tissues in a safe and efficient manner. Currently, most researchers use inactivated, non-disease-causing viruses to ferry various parts of the CRISPR/Cas9 system into cells. However, because of size constraints, it’s not possible to fit all three components into a single virus. Also, because of the large number of viral particles needed to carry CRISPR/Cas9 components in separately, there are concerns that viral delivery systems could trigger immune responses in people. Not only could such immune responses pose a safety hazard to patients, they could also reduce the effectiveness of the viral delivery system.
Because of these challenges, there’s been great interest in developing better ways to deliver CRISPR/Cas9 therapeutics. In the new study recently reported in Nature Biomedical Engineering, Irina Conboy and Niren Murthy at the University of California, Berkeley, decided to try a delivery vehicle they call CRISPR-Gold .