Unexpected Side Effects of CRISPR Gene Editing

CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. It is a type of genetic engineering technique used in molecular biology. It allows modifying genes in living organisms. It is centred on a simpler version of the CRISPR-Cas9 antiviral protection framework. By injecting Cas9 nuclease complexed with a synthetic guide RNA (gRNA) into a cell, the genome of the cell can be cut at the preferred spot, enabling current genes to be deleted and/or new ones to be inserted in vivo (in living organisms) (Handel, 2015).

The technique is perceived to be of great importance in biotechnology and medicine, since it allows genomes to be edited in vivo with incredibly high precision, affordably and easily. It can be used in the development of new medications, agricultural products, and genetically modified organisms or as a means of controlling pathogens and pests. It also can cure hereditary genetic disorders and issues caused by somatic mutations such as cancer (Cohen, 2020).

How does CRISPR gene editing work?

DNA is like a life guidance manual on the world, and CRISPR/Cas9 will hit locations in genetic material. This helps scientists alter it by deleting a single gene or adding new genetic material at a DNA’s fixed site.

Cas9 is a type of processed protein, which functions as a pair of scissors that can snip pieces of DNA strands. CRISPR stands for frequently interspersed clustered short palindromic repetitions— a repetitive DNA pattern in genomes.

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Cas9 Genomic Alteration has supported the rapid and productive generation of transgenic models in the area of genetics. Cas9 can be conveniently inserted into target cells along with sgRNA, through plasmid transfection to model disease dissemination and cell response and anti-infection defence (Dow, 2015). The potential of Cas9 to be implemented in vivo allows for the development of more precise models of gene expression and mutation results, thus eliminating off-target mutations that are usually seen with older genetic engineering approaches.

The CRISPR and Cas9 revolutions in the genomic simulation are not confined to mammals only. Classic genomic models, such as Drosophila melanogaster, one of the very first model species, have seen more enhancement in their resolution by the use of Cas9 (Dow, 2015)

How is it used?

It has also had a significant effect on science, clinical medicine, and agriculture. According to Nature Communications, CRISPR-Cas9 can be used to biofortify rice with carotenoid (Dong et. al., 2020).

It was first used in humans in 2016, and a study is underway in the United States to use new technology to treat individuals with sickle cell disease, a category of hereditary blood disorders. According to some of the researchers, this technology can alter up to 90% of genetic defects.

What are the side effects of CRISPR gene editing

Regardless of the ease and benefits of CRISPR gene editing, the researchers have observed some negative side effects. CRISPR-Cas9 comes with an unfortunate risk that the altered cells will trigger cancer.

It has been investigated by scientists that the successful editing of cell’s genomes with CRISPR-Cas9 has the capability to plant tumors inside the patient’s body. It can also become cancerous itself.

The most controversial concerns pertaining to human germline alterations entail threats to human welfare and morals, such as the possibility of unintended adverse consequences in scientific applications, in particular, the correction or mitigation of genetic disorders, the issue of informed consent, and the risk of eugenics exploitation. Stringent rules and standards, as well as global discussion and understanding, are needed to ensure that CRISPR mediated genome editing technology is utilized safely and wisely.