“A molecular oddity found in bacteria could hold the key to redesigning genomes at will, allowing researchers to insert, delete or flip large segments of DNA.

The technique, described in three papers published this month in Nature and Nature Communications, harnesses the natural ability of mobile genetic sequences, called jumping genes, to insert themselves into genomes.

Guided by an RNA molecule called a ‘bridge’ RNA or ‘seekRNA’, the system has been shown to edit genes in a bacterium and in test-tube reactions, but it is still unclear whether it can be adapted to work in human cells. If it can, it could be revolutionary, owing to its small size and its ability to make genetic changes that are thousands of bases long — much larger than is practical with the CRISPR–Cas9 genome-editing system — without breaking DNA.”

From Nature.