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Custom gene editing rewrites zebrafish DNA

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The zebrafish is a major player in the study of vertebrate biology and human disease. Its transparent, externally fertilized eggs, short reproductive cycle and fast growth mean that its embryonic development can be studied closely while the animal is alive, and the fish is a useful model for studying gene behaviour and function. Now, researchers led by Stephen Ekker, have for the first time made custom changes to parts of the zebrafish (Danio rerio) genome, using artificial enzymes to cut portions of DNA out of targeted positions in a gene sequence, and replace them with synthetic DNA. The work is published today in Nature. Rihel sees potential for the TALEN technique in humans: 'To pull just one pie-in-the-sky idea off the top of my head -- we could potentially use targeted DNA editing in the retina to repair a human blindness gene, for example.'

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