What is CRISPR- CAS9 ?
This question has made a lot of buzz in the scientific community. Many of us know the very basics of genetic engineering, but it is essential to know about the real game changer, CRISPR!
CRISPR stands for Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, this plays a key role in bacterial defense system. This technique allows scientists to make precise edits to DNA. It is used to edit parts of the genome by removing, adding or altering sections of the DNA sequence. But how does it work?
The system consists of two major molecules responsible for editing of DNA;
- An enzyme called Cas9. This acts as a pair of ‘molecular scissors’ that can cut the two strands of DNA at a specific location in the genome so that bits of DNA can then be added or removed.
- A piece of RNA called guide RNA (gRNA). This consists of a small piece of pre-designed RNA sequence. This ‘guides’ Cas9 to the right part of the genome. This makes sure that the Cas9 enzyme cuts at the right point in the genome.
Cas9 follows the gRNA and cut at the same location on DNA. After this naturally, the cell recognizes the damage and tries to repair it, Scientists can use the DNA repair machinery to introduce changes to one or more genes in the genome of a cell of interest.
Image Source: Wikipedia
Scientists are now able to make this CRISPR’s system helpful to the mankind. This systems ability to cut copy paste is tremendous and can be of very much use to humans. The potential for this technology is huge; if scientists have the accuracy to replace just a few faulty genes, it might be possible to cure genetic disorders as serious as cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s disease.
Indeed they have already been used to treat human disease on a small number of exceptional and life-threatening cases.
Scientists at UC Berkeley and UC Riverside have demonstrated a way to edit the genome of disease-carrying mosquitoes that brings us closer to suppressing them on a continental scale. Scientists believe that this technology could be used in mosquitos and all the deadly diseases posed by them. This can be achieved if the genes responsible for fertility in female mosquitos are disrupted at multiple sites, this makes it hard for the population to divide and in turn survive. As a result, a large population can be suppressed, and in turn, mankind be benefited. This is the summary of an ongoing research going on the use of technology CRISPR for disease-causing mosquitos in University of California – Berkeley.
Thus, for an every aspiring biotechnologist it is an important piece of information. This maybe be used in future researches, for the benefit of mankind. As the potential posed by this technology is vast, and thus possibilities can be explored.