CRISPR-CAS9

by MCAT 101


Introduction


CRISPR is a technology used as genetic therapy to treat diseases or conditions found in an embryo early on. CRISPR can be used to create designer or super babies. It produces RNA to target the virus or diseases in the embryo. CRISPR-Cas9 (correlated to protein 9) has been revolving around successfully amongst scientists and researchers recently due to the fact it is precisely executed which makes the outcomes exceptionally accurate and swift. It is one of the most applicable methods for genome editing. Genome editing is basically engineering for DNA and it helps with replacing, manipulating, inserting, and modifying the genome of living organisms. Cas9 works as an enzyme that acts as scissors by cutting the DNA in specific areas which makes it easier to determine physical traits of the embryo such as eye color, skin etc. A piece of RNA consists of sequences which are about 20 bases long, binds to DNA and the pre-made sequence binds in the exact position at the appropriate section of the genome, this highlights that the Cas9 enzyme cuts at the ideal place in the genome.


History


Although the CRISPR-CAS9 technology has been evolving rapidly in the field of science and

technology, the structure was first published by Amemura, Ishino, Makino, Nakata, Shinagawa, Takase, Wachi at Osaka University in 1987. Which expeditiously became an applicable technology for many researchers and doctors. The term “CRISPR-CAS9” was first published in the year 2002 by Mojica, Jansen, Embden, Gaastra, Schouls at Utrecht University. Furthermore, Jennifer Doudna, at the University of California, Berkeley who was awarded for developing gene editing tools which authorizes the precisions in the world of genome editing. CRISPR-CAS9 was first used by scientists in 2017 to repair a mutation in babies genes which was successfully executed.


Evolvement of CRISPR-Cas9


CRISPR-Cas9 has always been an essential part of genome editing and a functional way that provides uncomplicated and affordable procedures to manipulate DNA. Which has brought genetic engineering to a whole new level and standard. There are numerous researchers working on CRISPR-Cas9 and finding a cure to diseases like Alzheimer's, cancer, cystic fibrosis, COVID-19 and much more. CRISPR-Cas9 has played a significant role in cancer and covid-19. The first clinical trial was in China which was to modify immune T-cells taken from the patient. Gene editing was done to destroy cancerous cell inhibitors due to the fact that some tumor cells are able to bind to the protein to block the immune response against cancer. Secondly, screening tests are taken into account, But more implications of this technology will help us grapple through covid-19. Scientist from Stanford university has created a new version of of CRISPR known as “CRISPR CAS13a”. This basically cuts and demolishes all the genetic materials that are influenced by covid-19 which eventually puts a stop to the virus infecting the lungs and making the condition critical. Statistics prove that this method has been extremely successful and effectively decreases viral activity in lungs by 90%.


Limitations


CRISPR has significantly been used to cure a lot of conditions and has been a great part of

genetic engineering. Although it comes with a few drawbacks and limitations which should be taken into account. The effects of CRISPR-Cas9 aren't always successful due to its “off-targeting”effects. It’s known that the CRISPR-Cas9 is effortless to cut the correct genetic piece of information which is usually mistaken. This procedure requires a lot of precision due to the fact that there are high chances of it mutating a certain part of a gene which can cause harmful and serious conditions which results in not being 100% ethical. Furthermore, if a patient is gene manipulated this can pass from generations to generation not knowing if there has been something that the technology wasn’t able to pick up. The worst case scenario in this situation can cause mutations that give birth to incurable diseases.


Beyond CRISPR-Cas9


CRISPR-Cas9 can cause a lot of limitations that will occur which will disqualify the experiment or the research to take place. This was excelled by the enzyme called Cpf1 which is smaller than the Cas9 and makes it highly specific to target. There are many other enzymes that need more precision to work on and are more complicated to work effectively with Cas9 such as C2c2 etc.The research has recently announced about the deactivation of Cas9 enzyme which makes it unable to cut any other genetic information. CRISPR-Cas9 can be an unreliable source and also dangerous. Therefore a universal way to make this technology easier is yet to be made.




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