The most hyped method CRISPR could be useful for more than gene editing and instead delve into a similar field that could promise better health. It’s one of the most controversial technique in genetics to this date. It has sparked numerous ethical debates, and it will likely continue for the following years.
The future of medicine or the force of evil?
Some state that it’s a medical marvel that the community has been ferociously anticipating for years. Other claim that it’s crossing the line of morality and ethics with its ability to interfere with a human’s genome. It’s safe to say that it could be used with unfortunate means in the wrong hands. However, it’s hopeful that its uses will be solely with good in mind.
Simply put, CRISPR uses an enzyme called Cas9 to effectively cut out defective genes. It works like a simple scissor, correcting faulty parts that might result into diseases. However, a bioengineering professor from Stanford University, Stanley Qi, claimed that there could be an even more interesting use of Cas9 and CRISPR.
CRISPR used as a dimmer switch
Instead of being used as a scissor, it could be used as a very efficient and supportive mode of transportation of other molecules. With it, he estimated that scientists could carry various other enzymes to cells that would influence their growth or development through time. Such a promising and innovative use could potentially cure diseases in a way that was never thought possible.
Incurable conditions such as HIV or cancer are certainly the first on the list.
For example, the genome editing could be used to turn off cell receptors for HIV. Essentially, it would stop the body’s ability to accept the virus. It would never linger or even enter the body without a proper cell to attach itself to.
In the case of cancer, scientist could engineer molecules that demand the faulty cancerous cell to stop multiplying. Instead, it could be programmed to die as all the other malfunctioning cells that could be potentially damaging to our health. It’s a matter of a simple switch, a function that would be turned on or off. And with it, it would promise perfect health well ahead of time.
According to Qi, there are 20,000 genes in our DNA. Each of them are like a dimmer switch, could be turned off or on.
Instead of using Cas9 as a scissor to cut off faulty cells, scientists could just manipulate them and shut them down. They could be forced to die instead of multiplying. The innovative technique could mean that genetic intervention might become a potential treatment for numerous diseases and infections in the future. And in consequence, CRISPR could shape the world of medicine as we now know it.
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