Genome editing, which is also called “gene editing,” is a set of technologies that lets scientists change the DNA of an organism. With these tools, genetic material can be added, taken away, or changed in specific places in the genome. Several ways of changing the genome have been made.
CRISPR-Cas9, which stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats and CRISPR-associated protein 9, is a well-known one. Scientists are very excited about the CRISPR-Cas9 system because it is faster, cheaper, more accurate, and more efficient than other ways to change the genome.
CRISPR-Cas9 was based on a natural way for bacteria to change their genes, which they do as a form of defensive defense. When infected with viruses, bacteria capture small pieces of the viruses’ DNA and insert them into their own DNA in a particular pattern to form segments known as CRISPR arrays.
The CRISPR arrays let the bacteria “remember” the viruses or viruses that are closely related to them. If the viruses try to attack again, the bacteria use the CRISPR arrays to make RNA segments that connect to specific parts of the DNA of the viruses. The bacteria then use Cas9 or a related enzyme to cut the virus’s DNA, which stops it from spreading.
Can Gene Editing have any bad effect on people’s lives?
Genome editing is a powerful scientific technology that can change medical treatments and people’s lives. However, it can also hurt human diversity and make social inequality worse by editing out the kinds of people that medical science and society have labeled as sick or genetically contaminated, like us.
Image source: Time
But it’s important to remember that bad genes don’t always mean a bad life, just like good genes don’t always mean a good life. If CRISPR is put to use to eliminate rather than to treat genetic differences, we as a society would basically instrumentalize this moralistic and reductionist assumption.
When technologies like CRISPR-Cas9 are used to change the human genome, there are ethical issues. Most of the changes made by changing the genome are only in somatic cells, which are cells other than egg and sperm cells. These changes are limited to only certain tissues and are not passed from one generation to the next.
But if genes in egg or sperm cells or in the genes of an embryo are changed, those changes could be passed on to future generations. Editing the genomes of germline cells and embryos raises a number of ethical questions, such as whether it would be okay to use this technology to improve normal human traits like height or intelligence.
Because of worries about ethics and safety, editing the genomes of germline cells and embryos is currently banned in the US and many other countries.
What Is The Future of Gene Editing?
The way scientists study biology has been completely changed by CRISPR. It has given basic scientists a new and more powerful way to ask questions like, “What genes are involved in cancer spreading to other parts of the body?” It has also opened up new ways to make drugs.
What are your thoughts about it?