Revolution in Biotechnology.. CRISPR cas9
Revolution in biotechnology
Humans have been engineering life for thousands of years by modifying the DNA, the building block of life carrying the genetic instructions for an organism. Change the instructions and one may Change the being carrying those instructions.
Biotechnology is not only just a field with some approaches but it covers all the aspects for survival of life in a much better way.
A very new technology now entering the stage is CRISPR. Over nights the cast of engineering has been shrunk by 99%. Instead of years it takes only weeks to conduct experiments. Its hard to get how big a technical evolution CRISPR is. It literally has the potential to change humanity forever.
Now What is CRISPR cas9
Since being discovered in a bacterial immune system CRISPR cas9 has been adapted as a powerful tool for genomic research. CRISPR cas9 is basically an RNA mediated nuclease. It is present in bacterial cell and prevent the bacteria from the viral DNA by degrading it.
Structure and function:
CRISPR is the RNA part which is also called the guide RNA as it guides CRISPR cas9 towards the gene sequence in DNA that has to be cleaved and is complementary to it. Cas9 is the nuclease enzyme that further performs the cleavage task at targeted site of DNA. It works with a high specificity just like a DNA surgeon. The revolution begans when the scientists found that the CRISPR cas9 system is programmable.
Now the very next Question is that for what purposes CRISPR cas 9 is being used in humans?
Biotechnologists use this CRISPR cas9 to specifically silence genes in humans. The technique has already revolutionized gene editing. Cutting the DNA is not all CRISPR can do.
It can also be designed to transport other enzymes that can edit the DNA at specific sites besides cutting it or in other words substitute one base with another. This can turn the disease causing gene into a healthy one.
But this is not all about gene editing, some labs are working to use CRISPR to modify transcription of DNA.
The End of Disease
In 2015, scientists used CRISPR to cut the HIV virus out of living cells to demonstrate the nature and specificity of CRISPR cas9 and how it can eliminate viruses which would be very tough using any other biological means. In an other experiment carried on a larger scale, scientists used mice infected with HIV virus. By injecting CRISPR cas9 in their tails, scientists eradicated almost 52% of the HIV virus from their body. Depending on these evidences it is believed that with some further modifications, CRISPR might eliminate HIV in next few decades. Moreover, Viruses that hide in our body cells like herpes virus and tricks our immune system, could also be eliminated by using CRISPR cas9.
Human's worst enemy CANCER could also be terminated by using CRISPR. Cancer is the abnormal growth of cells that can harm other healthy cells of the body or may interrupt the metabolism. White blood cells especially natural killer cells along with T-helper cells and T-cytotoxic cells fight against cancer but mostly could nit defeat cancer. Scientists can edit immune cells using CRISPR turning them into better cancer hunters.
Over 3000 of genetic diseases in humans are caused by a single incorrect base pair substitution or mutation in DNA sequence. Taking advantage of the programmable nature of CRISPR cas9, this issue can be resolved and in future we can eliminate these genetic diseases as well.
Outrageous things that used to be science fiction are suddenly becoming reality and the only thing we now for now is that things will change reversibly bringing a tremendous change in biotechnology.