Crispr Is The New Tomorrow
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Throughout history, there has been a rise in technology and we don’t seem to be going back. There has also been a rise, specifically, in scientific technology. Since DNA has been discovered; scientist have been forming new ideas and technology of gene editing. One controversial gene editing technology that has been out would be CRISPR/Cas9. CRISPR was introduced to the world in 2012 as an editing tool to eradicate hereditary genes, gene disorders, and various types of diseases. According to Raconteur journalist, John Illman, this gene edit could possibly reduce miscarriages too. Many have voiced their opinions and beliefs; such as CRISPR being unethical by creating “designer babies”, being ordered to produce traits such as hyper-intelligence.
But CRISPR/Cas9 has been known for helping scientist correct genetic defects. Illman’s article, Timeline of Scientific Discovery: Gene Editing, explains, “CRISPR-Cas9 has already helped to correct the genetic defect in Duchenne muscular dystrophy in mice, deactivate 62 genes in pigs so organs of animals grown for human transplant won’t be rejected, excise HIV from human cells in a laboratory and from living animals…and create genetically modified animal models of human disease to study genetic changes that trigger illness or confer protection”. Its safe to say that scientist have used this editing tool safely and haven’t abused it.
Although, this is not perfect because the gene edit can occur in the wrong place which can later can lead to activating a suppressed tumor or causing cancer. But that’s why scientist have been studying and investigating to fully understand what regions can be affected. Because CRISPR has not only been trialed on humans but other organisms that live alongside the human population; I myself, along with experts, believe that CRISPR will be our future, our way to transform and evolve earth and our society. Not only will it be beneficial for us but according to Victor Tangermann, Futurism journalist, “CRISPR (also known by its more technical name, CRISPR-Cas9) is precise, cheap, easy to use, and remarkably powerful”.
Some things that CRISPR can have an effect on is genetic errors and diseases, the resurrection of species and eradicate the most dangerous pest, and new, healthier foods. Tangermann describes a few researches that have contributed in evolving CRISPR; the Oregon Health and Science University did a study using CRISPR to test on 54 embryos and deleting one defective gene from them. The results where 36:54 that did not show any mutations and 13 only showed that they were partially free of any mutations. Because some cells change, researchers did another experiment where they corrected the same gene, as the previous experiment, closer to the time of fertilization and found only 1 had mosaic versus having Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Shoukhrat Mitalipov, lead researcher at the university said in a press release that, “By using this technique, it’s possible to reduce the burden of this heritable disease on the family and eventually the human population”. This study has been in the eyes of other scientist, in order for them to test it out on breast cancer. As studies have been testing this gene tool to correct genetic defects, other scientist have been doing studies that show CRISPR eliminating the microbes that cause diseases. Researchers have been doing studies with CRISPR in order to get rid of HIV. Although, it has not been tested on human, yet, it has been tested on mice. Tangermann states, “In 2017, a team of Chinese researchers successfully increased resistance to HIV by replicating a mutation of a gene that effectively prevents the virus from entering cells”.
Although scientist are strictly testing this on animals more research and studies can lead for us to have a future where humans can use this gen tool to get rid of such disease. Resurrecting a specie can sound a little terrifying and unethical but scientist have claimed that they are mainly using the gene tool to help populate endangered species and to create hybrids. According to Tangermann, “In February 2017, Harvard geneticist George Church made a surprising announcement before the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He claimed his team was just two years away from developing an embryo for an elephant-mammoth hybrid”.
By doing so, he hopes that he can bring this species back and can keep for the ice from thawing and can keep an endangered species alive. Although thus work can be done some experts think that Church’s two-year plan is optimistic. On the other hand, CRISPR can also lead to eradicating certain species. Of course, scientist are only thinking of the species that pose a threat to mankind; yellow, three-eyed, wingless mosquitos. This gene tool can affect the mosquitos flight and vision, which later reduces their ability to spread infections and diseases such as yellow fever.
Not only can CRISPR edit various of species genes but it can edit a plants gene that can be beneficial to the consumers. According to Jenna Gallegos, from Cornell Alliance for Science, “In 2015, scientist at Pennsylvania State University described the first CRISPR- edited food: a mushroom that doesn’t brown”. But that’s only the beginning because scientist have gone further to say that they can “turn off” certain genes, more specifically allergenic proteins. This can also lead to healthier produce; Gallegos stated, “Scientist have already used CRISPR to produce high-amylose rice, a healthier option for overweight or diabetic individuals”. According to healthdata.org, “An estimated 160 million Americans are either obese or overweight”.
Therefore, CRISPR editing plants can be very beneficial for today’s society because it can lead to a decrease of unhealthy weight. And according to cdc.gov, “In 2015, an estimate 1.5 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed among people ages 18 and older”. Although the statics are not higher than the overweight statistics it can still help enrich healthier fat profiles of oils. Scientist are advancing CRISPR more and more as they study and do research on more species and plants. The more they research they uncover the roles that cells have and how some can intertwine with each other.
According to Cancer Research UK, “CRISPR sometimes edits genes that it isn’t supposed to, so its hoped that newer versions [that are being created] will increase accuracy”. CRISPR has not been the only gen editing tool; there has been ZFN (Zinc Finger Nuclease and TALENs (Transcription Activator Like Effector Nucleases, but CRISPR- Cas9 has been the most effective yet. Although this gene tool has still not been perfected but with our technology advancing every year we might just make it in time to see it help endangered species, help stop certain disease or illness from ever being formed.
- Darnovsky, Marcy and Harris, John. “Pro and Con: Should Gene Editing Be Performed on Human Embryos?”. National Geographic, National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/08/human-gene-editing-pro-con-opinions/
- Gallegos, Jenna. “Using CRISPR to design Superior Foods”. Cornell Alliance for Science, Alliance for Science. 1 May 2018. https://allianceforscience.cornell.edu/blog/2018/05/using-crispr-design-superior-foods/
- “How Can CRISPR Genome Editing Shape the Future of Cancer Research?”. Cancer Research UK – Science Blog. Scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2018/01/12/how-can-crispr-genome-editing-shape-the-future-of-cancer-research/.
- Illman, John. “Timeline of scientific discovery: gene editing”. Raconteur, Raconteur. 2018. https://www.raconteur.net/healthcare/timeline-of-scientific-discovery-gene-editing.
Tangermann, Victor. “A CRISPR Future: Five Ways Gene Editing Will Transform Our World.” Futurism, Futurism. 29 Jan. 201. futurism.com/crispr-genetic-engineering-change-world.