Single-Nucleotide-Specific Programmable Riboregulators [SNIPR’s]: The New Savior for Cancer Patients?


  • SNIPR’s may help in eliminating cancer, sickle cell amenia, neurofibromatosis etc.
  • Highly accurate, rapid and inexpensive way of detecting genetic mutations

Led by Alexander A. Green, assistant professor Biodesign Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics from Arizona State University, a group of researchers have built SNIPR’s which are an easy to construct molecules that have the “capacity to identify any RNA sequence based on a single nucleotide difference.” Genomic Errors caused in the DNA or RNA are usually referred to as point mutations.

Point mutations are often the cause of various diseases like cancer, sickle cell anemia, neurofibromatosis, color blindness etc. SNIPR’s are designed to read and track the point mutations taking place in a particular RNA while staying inside the host cell. Alexander A. Green added, “What we’ve done with our technology is to develop a new, portable way to detect very minute sequence differences between RNAs you’re trying to detect.”

The study has also proved critical in identifying genetic resistance to antibiotics, failure of treatments in particular individuals and mutation related diseases. The scientists have also done a great deal of progress in automating the process of producing custom SNIPR’s so as to help a larger base use this for human benefit. Fan Hong, First Author of the study suggested the uses for SNIPR’s may extend up to, “human genotyping, Zika virus detection, and viral strain identification.”

Some type of point mutations in diseases like HIV are resistant to the conventional drugs. SNIPR’s may prove crucial in identifying the particular point mutation, and help the doctors prescribe an accurate treatment for that strain of the virus.