CRISpr cas-9 colin bolduc

What is CRISPR?

CRISPR is a gene editing tool founded in 2012 by Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier. CRISPR is a genetic tool used by bacteria to protect against bacteriophages. A bacteriophage is a anti-bacterial virus that implants its DNA into a bacteria, and uses the bacteria to reproduce, then killing the bacteria. The CRISPR system would put the virus DNA into its genome if the cell survived, then if it is ever attacked again, CRISPR would find and replicate the DNA sequence in a protein called CAS-9. Jennifer Doudna, IGI executive and the finder of CRISPR CAS-9, states:“But we’ve realized that there are many others arenas in which better gene-editing tools can promote global health, specifically by improving crops and sustaining a healthy microbial environment that has been shown to prevent illness, improve crop yields and nurture a balanced ecosystem.” CRISPR technology can modify anything from plants to animals to microorganisms. The discovery and use of CRISPR helped reduce cost, time, and risk of gene editing. New crops that resist bugs without chemicals, curing cancer, modifying fetuses before birth, and much more can be a reality in the future. CRISPR may seen like an impossible task, as it changes each segment in DNA, but it is easier than it seems.

How does CRISPR work?

CRISPR Cas-9 is a new gene editing tool created from bacterial systems that allows doctors to change the genes of any organism. “CRISPR (Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, pronounced "crisper") represent segments of DNA that contain short repetitions of base sequences followed by short segments of "spacer DNA" derived from previous exposures to foreign DNA” (University of Texas at Austin, Texas Advanced Computing Center). Abigail Beall of WIRED writes: “They replaced the bacterial CRISPR RNA system with a modified guide RNA. This RNA acts as a kind of ‘wanted poster’ - it tells a bounty hunter enzyme called CAS9 where to look. The enzyme scans the cell's genome to find a DNA match then slices for the DNA in the cell’s enzymes. To repair damage at that point, scientists can change or add DNA within the cell.” This is very important, because most genetic defects could be fixed with CRISPR, however, it is likely that some treatments will be less or ineffective in grown adults/teens, but it can still help with incurable diseases, like Huntington's, and also repair non-reproductive cells in the brain, heart and liver. These repairs can help expand the human lifespan, and make the population healthier. However, CRISPR is not limited to just humans, any animal, like a dog or cat, or insect can be modified. This could be used to eliminate genetic disease in pets, or even remove malaria, zika, and other diseases from mosquitoes, and lymes disease from ticks. Unlike other gene editing solutions, CRISPR is safer, cheaper, and way faster.

How much does CRISPR cost?

CRISPR has become the cheapest and quickest way to genetically modify organisms. It cut the costs up to 99%, from about 1 million to a few tens of thousands, and from years to only weeks. This is because of the simple procedures to implement a gene change. All someone would need to do is go into the doctor's office, and get a few injections wherever the person needs, most likely spanning over weeks. Although it depends on the type of change, and on how complex the procedure is, it would cost the same, if not less, than to treat the disease / health problem with standard medicine and procedures. At the current stage, regular checkups seem likely as to ensure that the gene altering is in control and doing what it should. This can drive up the cost of a procedure in full, but can lead to a healthier and easier life. David Warmflash, a writer for the Gene Literacy Project states: “Today, you can outsource a piece of guide RNA of any sequence cheaply at just under $10,000. Imagine if you could do the same thing to cure some rare metabolic disorder, or even cancer.” Although 10,000 dollars is a lot, the average cancer treatement is also 10,000 or even up to 30,000 a month. The idea of changing human DNA in the living person seems like it would be lethal in all cases. However, CRISPR, if used right, can be a safe and positive treatment for people to use in the future.

How safe is CRISPR?

CRISPR sounds dangerous, since you are affecting genes that can replicate and cause harm, but this is not the case. A LiveScience author, Tia Ghose states ”Because viruses can put their DNA into the bacteria's genome even with the CRISPR CAS9 system, there is a way for the virus to “shut off” CRISPR.” This would allow for doctors to quickly stop CRISPR CAS9 from harming the genome permanently, since the CRISPR CAS9 can stay in the body for up to 2 days, much longer than necessary. Michael Le Page, an author for news scientists wrote : “In the first attempt to fix genes in human embryos, fewer than 1 in 10 cells were successfully repaired – an efficiency rate that is too low to make the method practical. A second study published in 2016 also had a low rate of efficiency. However, because these embryos were very genetically abnormal, these experiments may not have given an accurate indication of how well the technique would work in healthier embryos.” CRISPR changes could seem devistating to a persons future offspring, since the DNA of the person is changed, but in reality, will not be as direct as people may believe.

How does CRISPR affect the offspring of a person?

CRISPR can unlock new opportunities, like designer babies, the end of disease, the end of morbid obesity, and much, much more. One major issue is whether humanity should keep editing to one person or to make gene edits continuous to our offspring. Hannah Dahl wrote an article for “The Daily Wildcat”, and states :”There are two ways the CRISPR technology can be used in humans. The first way is to alter somatic cells, which don’t get passed down to the next generation. This would only affect the patient who is receiving the treatment. The second way, known as the germline, can have serious long-lasting effects. Altering genes in the germline can produce permanent changes in the patient that will then be passed on to their children.“ If humanity chooses the germline option, any gene edits will be permanent, at least until edited off, for the gene line of a person and their offspring. The upside is only one edit needs to be done, then their children, will receive these benefits. However, if the edit causes issues, it could affect the entire gene line. Additionally, germite edits need to be make on embryos, and cannot be done in an adult to offspring, because the DNA must replicate the edited DNA as if it was natural so it can get into the reproductive system. Liat Clark wrote for “Wired”, “Currently, the risks of such a procedure outweigh the potential benefits but “with additional research, those risks will probably diminish and it will become increasingly important to have public input on how to weigh the purported benefit of an enhancement against those risks,” the report states.” The potential problems heavily outweigh the benefits to the public, so it's unlikely that anyone would back these improvements until there are more tests to prove its safety and effectiveness.

Glossary

DNA- Also known as Deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA is the information to create a living organism and its traits. DNA is a double stranded form in a helix shape. This shape and double halves of the DNA makes it very secure, and unlikely to mutate by itself. DNA is found in all life, from single to multi-cellular organisms.

Offspring- A offspring is a new life form created by one or more lifeforms. An offspring is not only a conventional human child, but can also be a cell divison from one cell to two, or any other animals child.

Bacteriophage- A Bacteriophage is a specialized virus that specifically targets bacterium, not living cells like human or multicellular animal cells. A Bacteriophage is like any other virus, as it uses the bacterium to replicate and infect more bacteria, etc.

Organism- An organism is any type of life form, like a single celled, multi celled, animal, or plant. The only restriction for the term "organism" is that the life form must be living.

RNA- Unlike DNA, RNA (ribonucleic acid) is only one strand of DNA. This makes the RNA very susceptible to mutation. RNA is commonly only found in certain bacteria and most viruses. (influenza is RNA, which is why it mutates and requires us to vaccinate every year for it.)

Genetic Mutation- A genetic mutation is the change in DNA or RNA at random in an organism. The mutation is a natural occurrence, and not an artificial change, which is called a genetic modification. Mutations take place when a DNA or RNA copies and re-creates itself, and messes up one of the letters th the chain. (an A letter becomes a T letter, etc.) This is more common in RNA, since there is no second strand to check its partner letter, like DNA. (as shown below)

Citations

Kurzgesagt. "Genetic Engineering Will Change Everything Forever – CRISPR." YouTube. YouTube, 10 Aug. 2016. Web. 04 Apr. 2017. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAhjPd4uNFY>.

Robert Sanders, Media relations | January 24, 2017March 20, 2017, and Robert Sanders. "CRISPR research institute expands into agriculture, microbiology." Berkeley News. N.p., 20 Mar. 2017. Web. 04 Apr. 2017. <http://news.berkeley.edu/2017/01/24/crispr-research-institute-expands-into-agriculture-microbiology/>.

Tacc. "Catching CRISPR in action." EurekAlert! N.p., 11 Jan. 2017. Web. 04 Apr. 2017. <https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-01/uota-cci011117.php>.

Beall, Abigail. "Genetically-modified humans: what is CRISPR and how does it work?" WIRED UK. WIRED UK, 05 Feb. 2017. Web. 04 Apr. 2017. <http://www.wired.co.uk/article/crispr-cas9-technique-explained?scrlybrkr=2b40a4c0#>.

"First results of CRISPR gene editing of normal embryos released." New Scientist. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2017. <https://www.newscientist.com/article/2123973-first-results-of-crispr-gene-editing-of-normal-embryos-released/>.

"Heard of CRISPR gene editing? It can save your life." Genetic Literacy Project. N.p., 23 May 2016. Web. 04 Apr. 2017. <https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2016/05/23/heard-crispr-gene-editing-can-save-life/>.

Ghose, Tia. "CRISPR 'Kill' Switch Could Make Human Gene Editing Safer." LiveScience. Purch, 29 Dec. 2016. Web. 04 Apr. 2017. <http://www.livescience.com/57340-crispr-off-switch-discovered.html?scrlybrkr=8dca25f5#>.

"CRISPR gene editing human trials in China and US offer hope for countless lives." Genetic Literacy Project. N.p., 15 Dec. 2016. Web. 04 Apr. 2017. <https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2016/12/16/crispr-gene-editing-human-trials-china-us-offer-hope-countless-lives/>.

Dahl, Hannah. "CRISPR gene editing tech brings countless opportunities and challenges." The Daily Wildcat. N.p., 05 Mar. 2017. Web. 04 Apr. 2017. <http://www.wildcat.arizona.edu/article/2017/03/crispr-genetic-tech-brings-countless-opportunities-and-challenges>.

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