With the advent of the genome-editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 discovered in 2012, genetic engineering is poised for a paradigm shift in the coming years.
CRISPR-Cas9 enables quick and precise DNA alterations in a variety of species. Gene engineering has previously been a time-consuming, difficult process that frequently failed. Such progress has been quite significant in the domain of healthcare so far, with a multitude of benefits.
How does it work?
CRISPR operates by introducing a DNA construct within a living thing. The construct is made up of the Cas9 enzyme, which deletes or cuts a section of DNA, an RNA sequence that directs Cas9 to the right spot to cut, and an entirely novel DNA template, which fixes the cut and modifies the gene.
We are nearing the stage where we may examine various gene combinations, manipulating how, where, and when they are expressed, as well as researching the functions of distinct DNA bases. To tackle issues in every area of biology, including healing human diseases, producing enough healthy food, developing and manufacturing new medications, and comprehending why certain species are vanishing, we must first grasp what DNA sequences accomplish.
Three key applications for CRISPR Cas9 gene editing are available to researchers:
- Disruption: nucleotides are added or removed to silence genes (morpholinos system).
- Deletion: parts of a sequence being deleted
- Correction: introducing new genes to replace disease-causing ones
These techniques make it possible to investigate how genes work and how changes to them impact them.
Significant benefits of this procedure
The following are a few ways that CRISPR might change the world:
- Eradication of malaria
By removing a section of insect DNA, researchers have produced mosquitoes that are immune to malaria. The modified mosquitoes subsequently transmit resistance genes to up to 99 percent of their progeny, regardless of mating with unmodified insects.
- HIV treatment
CRISPR has proved effective in deleting the HIV DNA from the patient’s genome. HIV implants its DNA within the cells of the host body. It’s conceivable that more genetic sequences that eradicate viruses such as hepatitis, HIV, herpes, and others will be discovered.
- Alzheimer’s disease treatment
To discover novel therapies, CRISPR-based platforms were recently created to identify the genes directing the processes in cells that result in neurodegenerative illnesses including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
- Improving livestock industries
To produce bigger stock for the nation’s commercial meat as well as wool businesses, CRISPR/Cas9 has been utilized in China to remove genes from cattle that prevent muscle and hair growth. This technique may be employed often in the future to increase the livestock industries.
- Generating novel cancer therapies
Immune cells can be altered via CRISPR to increase their capacity to recognize and eliminate cancer cells. It can additionally be used to assess how chromosomes can be investigated to find out their susceptibility to fresh anti-cancer medications, resulting in the creation of a customized treatment regimen with the highest likelihood of success.
- Agricultural crop production
Using CRISPR, scientists are learning new techniques for enhancing resilience to stress along with disease resistance, which might lead to the development of new crops that can help feed the world’s population.
- Cutting down on the use of plastic
A species of yeast that converts carbohydrates into hydrocarbons, which can be used to produce plastic, can be modified using CRISPR, considerably lowering the need to depend on petroleum-based resources and minimizing environmental stress.
CRISPR has the unique capacity to change how humans evolve, either for the betterment of society as a whole or to enhance the value of the human condition. The majority of genetic engineers concur that they must act prudently and responsibly.