“EVERYTHING IS THEORETICALLY IMPOSSIBILE,UNTIL IT’S DONE “
ROBERT A HEINLEIN.
CRISPR CAS 9 has been in spotlight among the scientists since 2011 and the
advancements of technology that we’ve achieved is mind boggling. Let’s clear up
the air and understand what Crispr is all about. Crispr, also known to the world as
“Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats” is the genetic
information of a bacterium that was discovered by Researcher Yoshizumi Ishino
and his colleagues in the year 1987. But the Crispr Cas 9 Technology was
founded by Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna who later won the
most prestigious award “The Nobel Peace Prize” in the year 2020. Crispr Cas 9 is
the newest and cheapest way of gene editing as of now. This has brought in a new
wave of science.
The working of this technology is plain
sailing. Cas 9 is the protein that is accountable for slicing the gene with the help of a Guide RNA.
To be precise Cas 9 protein is the Molecular scissors. Guide RNA is
a molecule that recognizes the Target DNA, unwinds the strand and directs the Cas
9 protein to the targeted gene. This Guide RNA can be bound to only 1 strand at a
time. Hence, to edit one strand, 2 Guide RNA’s and 2 Cas 9 proteins are required.
This ensures 99% precision. The Fig below will enhance our understanding
about the Crispr cas 9 technology.
As mentioned earlier, “This technology has brought in a new wave of science”.
Crispr based Molecular Diagnostic Technology is rapidly developing & has been
selected as one of the World’s Top 10 Science &Technology Advancement in
2018.This has helped us to establish cell models on human diseases, animal models
on human diseases and many more, which are crucial tools for understanding gene
function, exploring pathogenesis of human diseases and developing new drugs.
Currently Crispr technology has been successful in treating patients with Sickle
Cell Anemia as well as Beta Thalasemia. But as we all know, “Everything comes with a price”. Similarly, this technology also has its cons.
1.We do not know the long term implications of this method. (i.e) the effects of manual Gene mutation in newly produced generations. Thus, due to ethical reasons, this method (or) any kind of gene editing in non somatic cells also known as Germ line cells is banned in several countries like the U.K.
2.Generally, once the DNA is cut, the cells automatically repair the damaged
DNA. But it leads to unintentional mutations which could cause further unexpected
complications in the future. But, looking at the bright side, a major breakthrough in the field of medical
technology transpired in the year 2018, that was initiated by a Chinese Researcher
named Dr. He Jiankui, who edited the genomes of the embryos using Crispr Cas 9
technology. The CCR5 gene which codes for the protein that HIV uses to enter the
cell was edited, which resulted in the deletion of the gene. The babies were born
AIDS free even though the parents were HIV positive. They are known to the
world as “The Crispr Twins”. Nonetheless, he’s achieved a new milestone by
successfully creating a genetically modified baby; he was sentenced to jail as gene
editing in germ line cells are banned across many countries. ”Crispr is incredibly
powerful. It has already brought a revolution to the day to day life in most
laboratories” says molecular biologist Jason Sheltzer , Principal investigator at
Cold Spring Harbor Lab , New York .
Every generation needs a new revolution and this technology is a tool for our
revolution. Technology, like art, is a soaring exercise of the human imagination.
New technology has no good or evil in and of itself, it’s all about how we humans
choose to use it. Hence, let’s choose wisely and make our home a better place to
live in, for us and for the generations to come.
SRINIDHI V G (20BBT039)