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CRISPR Technique and its Application |

CRISPR Technique and its Application

Context

∙ It has been observed that highly targeted CRISPR Technology advances gene editing in living animals.

Gene Editing Technology

∙ It refers to technology that permits the change of an organism’s DNA by allowing genetic material to be added, removed, or altered at particular locations in the genome.

∙ It includes techniques like Zinc Finger Nucleases, Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nucleases (TALENs), CRISPR–Cas9 Editors, and Prime Editors, that can be used to repair, modulate, replace, or add genes to achieve a desired genotype.

∙ Its applications include correcting genetic defects, treating and preventing the spread of diseases and improving crops etc.

CRISPR Technique and its Application |

CRISPR-Cas9

∙ Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) is a DNA sequence which is part of the bacterial defence system.

∙ Cas9 (CRISPR-associated) is the name of the protein that transfers resistance.

∙ It is an enzyme that acts like a pair of molecular scissors, capable of cutting strands of DNA.

∙ It allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function.

Applications of CRISPR-Cas9

∙ Gene Drive Inheritance: Using the CRISPR-Cas9 technique, researchers succeeded in getting the offspring of modified and wild mosquitoes to pass on their antimalarial genes, spreading resistance through the whole population in the lab.

∙ Animal models: CRISPR-Cas9 Genome editing in specific tissues: Researchers have been able to modify the genomes of specific tissues such as liver and brain tissues using hydrodynamic injection and adeno-associated virus.

∙ It can be used to create animal models to mimic human diseases and to understand disease development by mutating or silencing genes.

CRISPR Technique and its Application |

∙ Multiple gene mutations: CRISPR-Cas9 can be used to generate mutants for target genes.

∙ Treatment of diseases: CRISPR-Cas9 can be applied to cells in vivo or ex vivo. In the in vivo approach, CRISPR-Cas9 is directly transferred to cells in the body using either viral or nonviral methods. In the ex vivo approach, first the cells are removed from the body; then CRISPR is applied to the cells and they are transferred back to the body.

∙ Recently, the US FDA approved the Casgevy (developed by Vertex Pharmaceuticals and CRISPR Therapeutics), and Lyfgenia (developed by Bluebird bio) for people aged 12 years and older.

∙ RNA editing: Single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) sequences can also be edited by CRISPR-Cas9.

∙ Industrial and Military applications: These studies are commonly focused on increasing the tolerance of soldiers against biological or chemical warfare. This technology has the potential to influence human performance optimization.

Significances of Gene Editing

∙ Tackling and Defeating Diseases: Most deadly and severe diseases in the world have resisted destruction. A number of genetic mutations that humans suffer will end only after we actively intervene and genetically engineer the next generation.

∙ Extend Lifespan: Genome editing could extend the human lifespan. The human lifespan has already shot up by a number of years, and we are already living longer and longer.

∙ Growth in Food Production and Its Quality: Genetic engineering can design foods that can withstand harsh temperatures and are packed full of all the right nutrients.

∙ Pest Resilient Crops: genome editing can address pest and nutrition challenges facing agriculture. Instead of using tons of insecticides and pesticides, we can protect our plant in a healthier way.

Associated Issues

∙ Ethical Dilemma: modification is unnatural and amounts to playing God.

∙ Safety Concerns: Slight changes made at the smallest level may lead to unexpected results.∙ Diversity: Diversity in all species of animals is a key to evolution on earth. Genetically engineering our species will have a detrimental effect on our genetic diversity- as in something like cloning would.

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