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CRISPR - Based diagnosis of viruses and bacteria on space missions

Dr. David Burstein, Tel Aviv University
Dr. Gur Pinnes, Volcani Institute

Genetic-level diagnosis is a powerful tool for precision identification of viruses, bacteria and even of specific genes - for example those which provide resistance to antibiotics. CRISPR-based systems are known mainly for their use in genetic editing - a discovery that earned it the 2020 Nobel prize in chemistry. However these systems can also be used for quick, simple genetic diagnosis while retaining high specificity. Since CRISPR systems are highly compact, and since they do not require special expertise or equipment, they are potentially highly-suitable for use in long space missions - for example on board the International Space Station or for future missions to the Moon or Mars.
In this experiment we tested various components of this diagnostic technology under microgravity conditions in the International Space Station. Our aim was to use the CRISPR systems for precision diagnostics of bacteria and viruses which might attack crew members on space missions and, in future, even to diagnose diseases in space agriculture.

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