CRISPR: The Gene Editing Method That Will Change Our Lives Forever!

in sirwinchester •  3 years ago 

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What is CRISPR-Cas9?

CRISPR-Cas9 (short for Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) is a system for gene modification.
That's right: With this new, revolutionary technology, you would be able to specifically change and edit sequences of your DNA.
You could completely delete certain genes from a cell, or simply alter the amounts of it, or create a mutation inside a gene by changing the base pairs (tiny pieces of DNA).
This process is called genetic engineering.

This is not an entirely new idea - humans have been experimenting with improving genes for a long time (think of breeding, or GMO food products!) but until recently, it was an extremely long, complicated and expensive process.

The new system CRISPR-Cas9 has completely revolutionized the field of Bio-Engineering and will eventually change all our lives - forever.


How does it work?

To explain the process, please watch this amazingly informative video first:

To quote the video and summarize the most important part that explains how exactly CRISPR works, this is what it's all about:

  • Bacteria and Viruses are contantly in a fight.
  • So-Called "Bacteriophages" are hunting bacteria.
  • Phages use bacteria as factories by taking their own genetic code and transferring it into the bacteria
  • When the Bacteria survives, they initiate their own Anti Virus system : They take partof the Virus' DNA in a DNA archive called "CRISPR".
  • If the bacteria gets attacked by the virus again, it copies the information from the DNA archive.
  • A protein called Cas9 can now analyze the attacking virus, and compare its DNA to the string of saved DNA.
  • If it manages to find a 100% match, the protein is being activated and cuts out the part of the Virus' DNA.
  • This immunizes the virus and saves the bacterium from the attack.

The process is already happening naturally - the revolution is just that scientists have found how to PROGRAM it.
This way, living cells can be edited - and it works for any type of cell in humans, animals, plants etc!
The new method was discovered in 2012 by french biochemist Emmanuelle Charpentier and her colleague Jennifer Doudna from the US.
It's very likely that they will be rewarded with the Nobel Prize for their discovery!


Co-Inventor Jennifer Doudna explains the CRISPR-Cas9 Method



Future Outlook & Possibilities with CRISPR-Cas9:

Of course, the method is still very young and it's too early to actually execute any of these ideas.
But if we think about the possibilities for a moment - what are all the things that we could do with CRISPR-Cas9 ?

Imagine you could modify any part of the DNA of any living being - the possibilities are almost endless.

  • We could alter plants and crops and make them immune against any diseases, to make sure every future harvest would be successful.
  • We could genetically modify livestock and keep it healthier (under worse conditions.)
  • We could end human diseases like cancer forever. Once we get sick, we could simply replace that part of our DNA with a healthy string.
  • We could alter our aging process and get much closer to the everlasting dream of "eternal youth".
  • We could totally transform ourselves, in any way we wanted to - whether that's to remove allergies and handicaps, or simply change body features for cosmetic reasons.
  • We could modify DNA in embryos, creating "Designer Babies" - shaping unborn childs into the person we want them to be.


At first this sounds amazing, but it also sparks a lot of ethical questions!

Imagine a world where rich parents just purchase certain features for their Babies - green eyes, intelligence, strong immune system - and therefore "design" their own child.


I personally believe that CRISPR-Cas9 will revolutionize Biology, and potentially our whole lives.
I'm excited to learn more about this futuristic method and work with it myself soon.
Imagine you were living in 1960 right now, and somebody would tell you that people would own small cellphones in the future that gain them access to almost every information in the world, that robots would replace people's jobs and that processes in almost every aspect of life would be automated.

You'd think that would be impossible - right ?

We might be at that exact same turning point now - and genetic engineering might totally change our lives and what we view as "natural" in the future.


Images: 1, 2, 3



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I understand the trepidation about altering the genomes of babies in order to have them exhibit certain features, and the concern that only the super rich will be able to afford it is certainly a valid concern - given the framework of authority and power that exists. If we can also make strides in decentralizing society at pace with CRIPSR technology, we may see a future where it is not prohibitively expensive. Hell, some crazy billionaire might purchase the tools to provide these treatments and offer them for unbelievably reduced cost to masses of people just because. Billionaires are crazy like that.

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you're right, that's possible too!
I'm excited where this technology will take us in the future, and which opportunities it will create for humanity!

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There are many technologies that could improve life for the masses, however many things are not necessarily being used to make our lives better, but to give the uber-rich more control over us. Often it is a two edged sword. I believe are many technologies that have been classified in order for them to pull out when the elites need them and not before. So I don't expect this to be used any differently even though it is unclassified. Who knows, perhaps some possible implementations are classified.

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That's why I prefaced my speculation with the understanding that it would benefit all of us at a rate inversely proportional to the size and scope of government. The less government there is to control it, the more widespread and adopted it will be.

I agree with the ethical questions - although there are thousands of possibilities to use this technology, many of them will be morally questionable, and we would really have to find a way to handle situations like that

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definitely, it's not easy to deal with questions like that, but there would have to be regulations for it

Once thought of as being futuristic is now becoming closer to reality. Many ethical questions will come about but the ending disease aspect is promising.

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totally agreed!
eliminating diseases will probably the biggest benefit

I had no idea such a thing was even possible - to edit the DNA of a living being. I hope we’ll witness this actually being used in our lifetime!

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we're not quite there yet, but might be in a few decades!

I can’t believe that technology has already come this far - wow

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and this is still only the beginning!

thanks for sharing such amazing information, I’m blown away!

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glad you enjoyed it!

I’m sure they will get the nobel prize for this discovery - this is revolutionary

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I think they have pretty good chances as well, this is a major discovery!

can’t wait to hear about the first successful experiments with humans!

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yes me too!

this is such an interesting topic, I didn’t know DNA modifying was even a thing

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yes, it's still in early stages but it's developing quickly!

imagine the ENDLESS things you could do with this! it’s crazy!!

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totally - it will change lots of things in our future!

you could simply get rid of all diseases, basically ALL the bad things humans have to deal with on earth!

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exactly, that would be a revolution!

nice article! I remember mentioning CRISPR in a sci-fi of mine here, I should maybe write the next chapter. CRISPR gives a lot of room for imagination :D

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that's a great topic to implement into a fiction story!

"The new method was discovered in 2012 by french biochemist Emmanuelle Charpentier and her colleague Jennifer Doudna from the US."

Hmm, thats a controversial statement.

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well, they worked together on the study, but Mrs. Charpentier is originally from france (currently living in Berlin) and Mrs. Doudna is from the US!

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That's not why its controversial. The CRISPR-Cas editing idea as far as in eukaryotic cells was not developed by Jennifer Doudna et al. They did show that it would be possible for gene editing, but in bacterial cells IIRC. There is a huge patent dispute over Cas9 as a whole, and quite a bit of controversy.

Personally, I believe Doudna is in the right. However that doesn't diminish the controversy.

For more information pertaining to what I am talking about see the link below:

http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2016/06/05/crispr-clash-dna-technology/id=69650/

Note that this is just the first result that showed up in a google search for it, so I can't guarantee that it is the most informative. However it does discuss the dispute between Doudna and the Broad Institute.

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yes, I also read that there is a controversy around it because someone else has claimed the patent just a few months after the original paper was being published ..

but anyway, whoever came first and whoever is in the right here, it's still a revolutionary technology and has the potential to transform the way we live!

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We will see, I have some concerns with a few of the limitations of Cas9. However there are a number of other promising candidates with similar, but slightly different functions. Time will tell. We can, and likely will do a lot with Cas9.

As an aside, the technology revolves around CRISPR-Cas9 however the Clustered regularly interspaced short palendromic repeats part has absolutely nothing to do with the applications of the nuclease. Other than part of the sequence of the Guide RNA is derived from the repeating element of that locus. I personally wish the media would change discussions of this technology to read: Cas9 and The Gene Editing Method That Will (maybe) Change Our Lives Forever!

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Curious if you could answer:

I feel altering a person's genes, what would the process entail?

Would they simply take a hair or blood sample - alter that sample, and then inject it back into the body, for example...?

Very interesting. Hope it does not go the way of Gattaca