Researchers develop new machete technique to slice into cancer genome and study copy number alterations

MACHETE is a new CRISPR-based technique developed by researchers at the Sloan Kettering Institute (SKI) to study large-scale genetic deletions efficiently in laboratory models.

People are already calling it the Machete Paper.

Still, lead authors Francisco “Pancho” Barriga and Kaloyan Tsanov of the Sloan Kettering Institute don’t want the name of their new research technique to overshadow their findings — which shed new light on a genetic change that contributes to about 15% of all cancers, and which might help identify patients likely to respond to immunotherapies.

MACHETE is what the duo call the CRISPR-based method they developed to study copy number alterations, or CNAs, which are large-scale genetic changes that frequently happen in cancer.

The MACHETE acronym stands for Molecular Alteration of Chromosomes with Engineered Tandem Elements. It’s a new way of slicing out significant targeted sections of genetic code to mirror changes that arise in cancer and other human diseases.

This means that, for the first time, there’s a straightforward and efficient way to study CNA deletions in laboratory models — such as the mouse models of pancreatic cancer and melanoma used in their study, which was published in Nature Cancer on November 7, 2022.

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