CRISPR | The Era Of Gene Editing

Move over your Instagram pictures or Snapchat stories, we’ve come to a time and age where even genes can be edited. You heard us right. CRISPR is a game-changing gene editing technology that can alter any region of the genome of any species with high meticulousness and accuracy, without injuring other genes.

So how does it work?

If you’re aware with the copy/paste function on your laptop, then you know CRISPR, well, at least at a very elementary level. This technique enables scientists to delete an undesirable gene, add a desirable gene, activate dead but non-functional genes and control gene level activity. The most crucial benefit of CRISPR is that it helps fight diseases running in the family history and inherited through genes. While it might sound bizarre to edit genes, it is practically benefitting to have an exit door from #bornlikethis diseases, well, at least for those affluent enough to follow leading-edge medical solutions. However, every coin has a flip side and every technology can turn bad if used to one’s irrelevant needs. So how grave can the trade-offs of CRISPR be? Scientists advocate they may be negligible if the technology is made available to those with “family diseases” and then withdrawn gradually.

The biggest question remains that in a bid to produce better and better and better off-springs, are we losing something by interfering with nature’s way?

Interfering with human DNA has always remained a sensitive topic for a lot longer than it’s been a genuine proposal. Around two decades ago, Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA — Aldous Huxley legendarily comprehended of a Brave New World in which a genetic caste system governed the destiny of bottle-grown human embryos. In, what can be called one of the first real victories of genetic engineering, inventors produced genetically reformed bacteria and mice in the initial 1970s. Evolution was moderately swift by scientific criteria, but the real breakthrough came in 2012 when CRISPR, a naturally occurring sequence of genetic code was discovered in the immune system of bacteria. The new device empowered scientists to change DNA with ease and accuracy. Suddenly, the conversation turned into “Nature V/s nurture V/s laboratory manipulation”.

People weren’t ready for this kind of a change and they still aren’t, but we’re slowly moving towards it. Even if the actual use of such a technology is far away, the talks about ethics of using it have already begun. This is because as CRISPR is easy to use, it is also easy to abuse. And the abuse would happen when parents would start demanding for designer babies with particular hair color or skin tone.

While CRISPR is an amazing technique for preventing the passing on of genetic problems like Down Syndrome, Huntington’s and others, the biggest question remains that in a bid to produce better and better and better off-springs, are we losing something by interfering with nature’s way?





Sign Up For Our Email:
Be In The Know With Our
Empowerment Newsletter
Follow Us

Join The Conversation