CRISPR: The prestigious Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2020 has been awarded to Jennifer A. Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier for the gene editing techniques they have developed called CRISPR/Cas9, which was first discovered and formulated for easy use in 2012.
What is CRISPR/Cas9
CRISPR/Cas9 is a groundbreaking external tool, which has the potential to change the face of genetic studies and Biotechnology. CRISPR/Cas9 is unusual repeated DNA structures, which is expanded to clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.
This mechanism of gene editing is naturally found in the immune system, when a virus invades a bacterium the bacterium releases an enzyme (protein) called Cas9 which snips off a part of the virus. This DNA is stored with the bacterium for future immune defence. The virus is killed after this shipping.
The winning duo recreated this genetic scissors of the bacteria and simplified the tool for use.
Application of Gene editing Technology
Gene editing Technology has important applications in all aspects of life sciences. It has the potential to cure previously incurable diseases, can also where inherited disease and some types of cancers too. Moreover it can be used in agriculture field to enhance crop yields, make plants resistant to diseases and pests.
Drought flood resistant crops can also be a new reality. Additionally it has opened Gates to carry out Bio-medical Research and related fields. Mosquitoes can also be modified not to carry transmitting diseases like Malaria.
Chances of Misuse of Gene editing Technology
But gene-editing, being a very powerful tool, also creates avenues for illegal and ethical research application which can result in significant damage to life.
Gene editing can be used on human embryos as it was seen in 2018, when a Chinese researcher editing or disabled CCR5 gene into twin embryo to make the future babies resistant to HIV.
However such disabling was dangerous and CCR5 gene is instrumental for protection against west Nile virus.
Misuse of gene editing can, therefore, lead to disturb the law of nature by modifying the embryos. It can lead to commercialization of this practice for choosing selective traits to create designer babies.
There is a fine line between health benefits and that too limited to only incurable diseases and mere business or demands to improve ‘IQ’ or ‘looks’ of a baby.
There is also already and unofficial consensus in the scientific community, which needs to be translated into a well documented code of conduct involving concerned political consensus too in order to prevent dangerous research, discrimination and conflict.
Author:- Suramya Sharma
Gene Editing Tool CRISPR CAS9
Category:- Current Affairs
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