Let’s talk about getting CRISPR
The gene-editing tool that will change the future
A glimpse of History
Genome Editing has been around since the early ’60s when we found out the code of life, Deoxyribonucleic Acid, aka DNA. This is the molecule that guides growth, development, function, and reproduction of everything alive is the reason You are You!
Anyways, as soon as DNA was discovered people tried working with it, so in the 1960s, scientists bombarded plants with radiation to cause genetic mutations in the genetic code in order to get a useful plant variation.
First Genetically Modified Food
In the ’70s, scientists would insert DNA snippets into animals, plants, and bacteria for research, medicine, and agriculture. Thus the earliest genetically modified animal was born 1974, making mice and rats a standard tool for research.
The years past and in 1994 the first genetically modified food went on sale — it was a tomato 🍅
In 2018, GMO soybeans made up 94% of all soybeans planted, GMO cotton made up 94% of all cotton planted, and 92% of corn planted was GMO corn.
Today it is very likely you are eating foods and food products that are made with ingredients that come from GMO crops.
A glimpse into the future
Over the past few years, CRISPR has been heard all around the science and technology fields. CRISPR is precise, cheap, easy to use, and remarkably powerful making experts predict that this gene-editing technology will transform our planet.
So here are Three ways CRISPR could change the world other than correcting genetic errors.
1.CRISPR could eliminate the Microbes that cause disease
In 2017, Chinese researchers successfully increased resistance to HIV in mice by replicating a mutation of a gene that effectively prevents the virus from entering cells.
Though treatments for HIV have turned the infection to a livable health condition, we still haven’t found a cure. The mutation occurs in only a small percentage of people, so by using CRISPR to introduce the mutation to human stem cells that lack it, researchers could bolster HIV resistance in humans in the future.
In a slightly different approach, Scientists in North Caroline used CRISPR to engineer bacteriophages in order to kill harmful bacteria.
In the first group of human trials, scientists are using the technique to fight cancer and blood disorders such as sickle cell disease.
Other researchers are set to study how CRISPR/Cas9 works inside the human body and in one upcoming trial, people with inherited blindness will have the molecular scissors injected into their eyes.
These are just a few of the first human CRISPR trials still, while more human trials yet to begin, researchers are optimistic about using CRISPR to engineer phages, since they are a proven a safe method to treat bacterial infections and disease.
But, for now, scientists are conducting most of these experiments in animals but hope to think the same methods may work on humans.
2. CRISPR Could Resurrect Species and also kill some
In 2017, Harvard geneticist George Church made an announcement claiming that his team was using CRISPR to help develop an embryo for an elephant-mammoth hybrid.
With this, he hopes that by bringing back the wooly mammoth, we could keep global warming in check.
“Mammoths keep the tundra from thawing by punching through snow and allowing cold air to come in,” Church told the New Scientist.
Now there we showed an example of CRISPR resurrecting a species, but what about completely destroying one?
Destroying a species with CRISPR
Gene-editing tools like CRISPR could directly combat infectious diseases, but what if we slow the spread of disease by eliminating its means of transmission?
Well, scientists at the University of California, Riverside developed a new kind of mosquito that has been changed with CRISPR, giving scientists the control over which traits the organism could pass on to its offspring.
By disrupting target genes in multiple of the mosquito’s genes the Riverside team is hoping to greatly reduce its ability to spread dangerous infectious diseases among humans, such as dengue and yellow fever.
But we don’t know what consequences we’re facing if we interfere with mosquito populations. Eliminating a species could have disastrous consequences, such as disrupting the food web or increasing the risk of diseases like malaria could be spread by a different species entirely.
So, while we are still seeing what we can do about this, CRISPR can be used for both resurrecting or obliterating a species.
3.CRISPR Could Create New, Healthier Foods
While gene editing had proven to be promising to the agricultural field, thanks to Le Tomato 😂 we ask what else can we do other than make fruits and vegetables grow bigger? Well, Scientists from Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory used CRISPR to increase the yield of tomato plants(yet again tomatoes win😂). The lab determined tomato size, branching architecture and the shape of the plant in order for a greater harvest. The method is designed to work in all food and fuel crops, so with High-yielding crops, more food for a hungry world, That’s just one way we hope CRISPR could change the world.
Keep in mind GMOs and Gene-edited crops are different. Traditional GMOs are made when foreign DNA sequences are inserted into a crop’s genome, transmitting those traits into future organisms. Gene-editing is more precise, it takes specific locations of the native genome and often knocks out certain genes or changes their location, all without introducing foreign DNA. Of course, scientists will continue to test and evaluate the crops to ensure that there are no side effects, but we’ll eventually see CRISPR- edited crops flood global markets, In fact DuPont Pioneer hopes to bring its “waxy” gene-edited corn to the market by 2020.
A CRISPR Future
We are only beginning to see the full potential of genome editing tools like CRISPR. While Technological and ethical issues still stand between us and a future where we bring Wooley Mammoths back to life or start eating a gene-edited tomato, we are well on our way to finding what Gene-Editing can do for the world.
Thank you :))