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  • Writer's pictureKeishaa Varma

CRISPR

Can you imagine creating a perfect human being? Believe it or not, science is making stunning progress in the field of DNA and genome editing that can possibly in the future develop perfect human beings! With such technologies we can go from changing the colour of our eyes to actually maybe developing HIV resistant human beings! This can be made a reality with technologies such as the Nobel prize winning CRISPR technology.


CRISPR (Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) technology is a simple yet powerful tool for editing genomes. It allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function. The essence of CRISPR is simple: it’s a way of finding a specific bit of DNA inside a cell. After that, the next step in CRISPR gene editing is usually to alter that piece of DNA.


The most important use of CRISPR is genome editing. Studies have shown that this technology can be effective in correcting genetic defects such as cystic fibrosis, cataracts and Fanconi anaemia by DNA editing and gene editing. CRISPR technology also has several potential applications which include treating and preventing the spread of diseases, improving crops, and with the use of CRISPR we can also change the genomes of the future generations.


Now that we have understood the applications of CRISPR lets understand how exactly it works. CRISPRs are specialized stretches of DNA. The protein Cas9 used in CRISPR that is found in bacteria, is an enzyme that acts like a pair of molecular scissors, capable of cutting strands of DNA. This protein can easily be programmed to find and bind to almost any desired target sequence, simply by giving it a piece of RNA to guide it in its search. The Cas9 protein hooks up with the guide RNA and then moves along the strands of DNA that match part of the guide RNA sequence.


Now what happens next is very interesting. The standard Cas9 protein cuts the DNA at the target. When the cut is repaired, mutations are introduced that usually disable a gene. CRISPR can also be used to make changes in the DNA, such as replacing faulty genes which is called genome editing.


This tool has contributed to many important discoveries in basic research, and plant researchers. In medicine, clinical trials of new cancer therapies are underway, and the dream of being able to cure inherited diseases is about to come true. These genetic scissors have taken the life sciences into a new epoch and, in many ways, are bringing the greatest benefit to humankind.


~Keishaa Varma- Batch 2020-21


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