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Proteins produced by new AI

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CRISPR proteins produced by new AI are unlike those found in nature.

A Berkeley-based business called Profluent has taught an artificial intelligence system to create novel, previously unseen CRISPR proteins, potentially leading to gene editors with powers beyond those of organisms found in the wild. Additionally, a brand-new CRISPR system is being made available to all scientists, enabling them to use an AI-designed gene editor to further their scientific endeavors.

Background: Although CRISPR was first developed by bacteria as a protection against viruses, it can now be precisely edited to modify any gene in the lab, which has shown to be extremely helpful in a variety of fields, including agriculture and medicine.

A protein that produces the edit and an RNA strand that matches the target make up every CRISPR system. whereas “Cas9” is the most widely utilized protein for gene editing, researchers have found additional CRISPRs with distinct functions. For instance, CRISPR-Cas13 targets RNA whereas CRISPR-Cas9 slices through DNA.

However, the CRISPR gene editors we have available now are far from ideal. Researchers are always searching for novel CRISPR systems because they have the potential to produce changes in the incorrect areas or in too few cells to have an impact.

AI-designed CRISPR: Until date, the search has only been conducted on CRISPRs found in nature. However, Profluent has created an AI platform that can produce millions of CRISPR-like proteins by utilizing the same kinds of AI models that enable ChatGPT to produce language.

Breakthrough: Profluent recently declared that it had edited human DNA using OpenCRISPR-1, one of its AI-designed CRISPR systems, accomplishing what Madani referred to as a scientific moonshot.

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He told Freethink, We think we’ve helped to take an important step forward towards a future where AI can be used to quickly and affordably design bespoke treatments and cures for patients in need.

Through the OpenCRISPR project, Profluent has made OpenCRISPR-1 openly licensed for use in commercial or ethical research (albeit some uses, such human germline editing, are prohibited by the licensing agreement).

Madani claims that Profluent decided to make a system utilizing this specific AI-designed CRISPR protein publicly available because, despite its significant differences from Cas9, research indicates that it is equally effective and produces fewer off-target edits, which the startup hopes will make it simple for researchers to incorporate into their current workflows.

We see OpenCRISPR-1 as only the beginning of AI’s influence on gene editors since we have so many produced proteins to pick from, added Madani. We eagerly welcome input from the larger community on how OpenCRISPR-1 functions in various contexts.

Going forward: Profluent intends to collaborate with academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies interested in developing unique AI-designed CRISPR proteins, and it will utilize the input it gets to enhance OpenCRISPR-1 even further.

For the use of AI in the biological sciences, this is a really exciting moment, Madani told Freethink. With artificial intelligence (AI), we can create precisely what we need instead of being limited by what can be found in nature, which is how quickly biology is changing.


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