Crispr-Chapter 15 By Andrey MyChajlyszyn

What is It?

CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, which are the hallmark of a bacterial defense system which forms the basis for the popular CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology. "CRISPR” is often used to refer to the entire CRISPR-Cas9 system, which can be programmed to target specific stretches of genetic code and to edit DNA at precise locations.

How is it Useful?

The tool using CRISPR allows researchers to permanently modify genes in living cells and organisms and, in the future, may make it possible to correct mutations at precise locations in the human genome to treat genetic causes of disease. This could further be used to cure the HIV/AIDS Virus or even other types of diseases such as cancers. If a viral infection threatens a bacterial cell, the CRISPR immune system can thwart the attack by destroying the genome of the invading virus. The genome of the virus includes genetic material that is necessary for the virus to continue replicating. Thus, by destroying the viral genome, the CRISPR immune system protects bacteria from ongoing viral infection.

Should it be use and Why?

CRISPR should be used on gene editing of human embryos. Two-thirds of human embryos fail to develop successfully, most of them within the first month of pregnancy. And every year, 7.9 million children, that is 6 percent of total births worldwide, are born with a serious defect of genetic or partially genetic origin. CRISPR-Cas9 has a lot of potential as a tool for treating a range of medical conditions that have a genetic component, including cancer, hepatitis B, or even high cholesterol. The Nuremberg Code, a set of research ethics guidelines developed after World War II, requires that any human experiments should be so designed and based on the results of animal experimentation. CRISPR should go under rigorous testing on animals to promote its safety so it could later be used in humans to help genetic disorders or even cancer.

Why is this Interesting?

The reason why the use of CRISPR is interesting is because the ability to tweak DNA more precisely is going to revolutionize gene therapy, the idea of installing healthy, working genes in adults and children with devastating genetic diseases like hemophilia. CRISPR is an easy, cheap, and very precise way to edit the DNA of living cells. Also, the use of CRISPR is interesting because most science experiments are done on a limited set of model organisms: mice, rats, zebrafish, fruit flies, and a nematode called C. elegans. That’s mostly because these are the organisms scientists have studied most closely and know how to manipulate genetically. However, CRISPR/Cas9 theoretically can be used to modify the genomes of any animal and this included humans. In the future, scientists should definitely conduct more research about CRISPR and figure out how to make it safe so it could benefit many genetic disorders or even one day, cancer.

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