CRISPR/Cas9 Could Bring Breakthrough In Treatment Of Medical Ailments

By Dipannita - 07 Jun '16 15:40PM

The use of genetic editing techniques called CRISPR/Cas9 has always been a subject of ethical debate among health experts. If used in the correct direction and in the correct way, these techniques could be a boon to the field of medical sciences.

Scientists around the world are already using this technique in several of their projects. In addition, global research and development companies started using CRISPR/Cas 9 for the development of drugs to treat a number of life-threatening medical conditions, including sickle-cell anemia and cancer.

CRISPR technique derives its name from a series of DNA sequences found in microbes. It acts as a natural way of protecting against the viruses. Some microbes produce CRISPR genes in thousand of numbers and scientists believe that if they could get a hold of how to harness the genes, this could bring a breakthrough in the medicine.

Recently, in a study published in the journal Science, a team of researchers has explained how the world still remains devoid of the knowledge pertaining to these genes.

This is evident from the fact that the researchers recently discovered a mouth bacterium that possesses a form of CRISPR that does not break down into DNA, but RNA. The latter is a molecular messenger that converts genes into proteins.

The researchers believe that if they could apply the same process in human cells, they would get a hold of adjusting the proteins within cells, for example, proteins could be used to specifically target cancer cells. This would, in turn, mark a breakthrough in genetic engineering.

The use of the microbial defence as a gene editing technique in humans was first demonstrated by a team of scientists from the University of California, Berkeley and Sweden's Umea University in 2012.

According to the researchers, while DNA editing makes permanent changes in the genome of an individual, CRISPR-based RNA-targeting approach allows experts to bring in temporary changes that can be modified as per the requirement.

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