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Machine Learning Tool Could Create Custom Gene Therapies

November 29, 2019 / NA

Adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) have become the go-to vehicle for delivering therapeutic gene cargo to target tissues for the wave of gene therapies that are in development in academic and biotechnology laboratories. However, natural AAVs do not specifically target diseased cells and tissues, and they can be recognized by the immune system in ways that limit therapeutic success.To improve AAVs, synthetic biologists have been taking a “directed evolution” approach in which they randomly mutate specific amino acid building blocks of the capsid proteins that form the shell of the virus and directly contact target cells. By evaluating which changes can route the virus to target tissues and successively layering mutations on top of each other in an arduous iterative process, they aim to improve desirable AAV traits.Now scientists at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and Harvard Medical School (HMS) report an approach to speed up the process of ...