Washington: By borrowing a tool from bacteria that infect plants, researchers have developed a new approach that can be used to treat a variety of mitochondrial diseases, including the degenerative eye disease Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON).Searching for strategies to repair mitochondrial gene defects, a group of investigators at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine explored proteins called transcription activator-like (TAL) effectors- which are found only in certain types of plant-infecting bacteria.Scientists recently began using TAL effectors to modify DNA in a variety of organisms. In the lab, TAL effectors can be fused with DNA-breaking proteins called nucleases.These TAL effectors nucleases (TALENs) can be used to add or remove specific genes or correct gene mutations-techniques that fall under the broad category of genome editing.
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