When we look at the recent advancements in genome engineering technology such as CRISPR, it becomes clear that it’s an area that brought a lot to the scientific forefront. With an abundance of ways to utilize this technology in medicine and agriculture, it became one of the most discussed topics in the scientific community around the world.
In this article, we will cover the basics of genome editing and its main applications. Also, we’ll share some interesting facts that might motivate you to explore the topic even further.
What Is CRISPR?
CRISPR method is a type of gene-editing tool, and it stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat. Since gene editing has been around for quite some time, other tools are also used for the same process. However, none of them was as successful as the one we’ve mentioned, as it allows researchers to add proteins more precisely than ever before.
If you’re interested in gene editing, the first thing you should know is four tools that are currently in use: TALENs, ZFNs, CRISPR, and meganucleases.
How Gene Editing Functions?
Gene editing is, above all, a complex process where scientists create a controlled change in any living organism’s DNA. Some scientists and researchers compare it with a big encyclopedia to edit the letters, words, and punctuation. After those changes, we can follow what’s happening with a live organism and research the consequences of such changes.
Gene Editing and Gene Modification
Both gene editing and gene modification are forms of geniting engineering, but they don’t refer to the same process. The methods’ intent is the same: to improve the qualities of an organism, whether for nutritional value or improve its chances for survival in harsh conditions.
Genetic modifications usually refer to older techniques where an entire genetic sequence could be added to an organism. On the other hand, gene modification is more subtle as it can make more precise changes in the plant’s DNA chain.
Advantages of Using New Methodologies
One of the biggest advantages of new gene-editing procedures is that due to cas9 protein, it’s possible to directly inject the developing embryos and introduce multiple mutations of genes in one simple step.
Before changes were introduced one at a time and it was a lengthy process to begin with. Now, scientists can introduce multiple changes in the genome and follow its development.
Understanding Human Genes
Due to many breakthroughs with various gene editing methodologies, Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat became the most popular genetic engineering technique. Many scientists worldwide are using the CRISPR technique in their research studies to answer questions about the nature of the human genome. And to discover the possibilities of changing its key components.
One of the biggest questions in science is the nature of the human genome. So far, we’ve discovered its basic functions. Still, with new advancements in technology, it’s possible to target genetic mutations and even insert protein tags to track those proteins in time and space. It’s also possible to edit the DNA of only one cell without disrupting the normal function of other nearby ones.
Creating Precise Targeted Medicine
The mediation industry is rapidly developing for decades. However, the discovery of gene editing has opened a lot of options for medicine development. It becomes possible to test medication on many targets and analyze the genetic material’s response or potential changes.
Breakthroughs in gene editing enabled scientists to study the effects of drug sensitivity on specific altered cells and significantly improve drug development technology. In the future, this will lead to medication that is better in treating multiple disease. Also, they’ll support our immune response to help us deal with new virus infections.
Gene Editing Leads to Agriculture Innovation
GMO food is one of the biggest topics around the world. Genome editing is important for agriculture as it creates crops that can grow faster and need less water to produce a good yield. One of the biggest upsides GMO plants is their resilience to ever-changing weather conditions. Plants like coffee and rice consumed every day have struggled to survive the harsh climate changes happening in the past twenty years.
Agriculture experts are trying to find ways to acclimate new ways of life by adding or removing certain genes and analyzing the consequences. Studies have shown that it’s possible to do it with wheat and soy successfully in some cases. Still, scientists want to create more variety and introduce more plants to the genetic modification process.
More than 70% of modern infectious diseases originate from animals. With that in mind, research teams are trying to shed light on the interactions that humans have with nature and its consequences.
Gene editing will allow us to create sustainable solutions throughout the agricultural chain. Plus, it will help us save animals like pigs, cows, and goats from dying dies to dangerous viruses.
However, there’s a long way to develop systems that will employ gene editing to regulate these problems and provide the best solutions for these problems.
Cancer Therapy Innovation
New chancer therapy treatments have become one of the latest interests in the new gene-editing technology. Editing T-cells and removing genes that will make a defense system to inactivate cancer can lead to a cancer treatment breakthrough. Once it’s possible for immune cells to target cancer cells better, it will uplift the body’s defense mechanism and help people survive.
A Path Towards a Healthy Life
The remarkable advancements in methods for editing animals and plants’ DNA have created a lot of excitement for what we may expect in the near future. For 60 years, we know about the existence of DNA sequence, but only now we’re able to understand its importance and impact.
Since all organisms from bacteria, plants, animals all the way to humans are using similar mechanisms to encode and express genes, once we encode, it will bring us to a better understanding of the whole ecosystem and all of its components.
As our science develops towards creating unique solutions for the various problems we’re facing, it’s beyond question that CRISPR will greatly influence our future discoveries. And, with all the advancements, our food and general health might greatly benefit from it.