Decoding science-CRISPR/Cas-9 technology

The CRISPR technology has created a buzz in scientific circles largely due to its implications in the realms of medicine and biotechnology.It is economical,quick and precise when compared to other similar techniques.Simply put,it enables researchers to edit DNA sequences by adding,deleting and altering nucleotide sequences.The technology depends on the cas-9 enzyme that facilitates cutting of DNA at specific points along the genome for the introduction of defined sequences of interest.It therefore facilitates the introduction of changes in the genes in the genome of a cell.Earlier chemicals or radiation were being used to bring about changes in the genome.However these methods were not precise and did not facilitate targeting of specific locations.They were also time consuming and laborious.

           The technology has provided an effective tool to make changes in not only the somatic cells but also reproductive cells.However the use of this technology in germline cells has lot of legal implications.Unless these implications are widely discussed and a certain acceptability is found, the use of this technology will be limited.Although considerable studies have been carried out in animal cells,its use in humans or even in plant cells in future will pave the way for major breakthroughs to solve hitherto intractable problems.This is a long term vision as at present.Although other techniques for gene splicing and editing do exist,the CRISPR technique has provided a precision toll for achieving the objective of genome editing.An enzyme cas-9 is associated with this function .The cas is a group of enzymes and cas-9 plays a vital role in sniping the DNA at the correct locations within the genome ,guided and directed by CRISPR. Promising forays have been made in targeting mutations in monkeys and in preventing HIV infection in human cells.

           Apart from legal issues,there would also be ethical concerns especially when it comes to its use in medicine.All these would limit the widespread acceptability of this powerful tool.As of now the excitement surrounding the prospects and potential of this technology far outweigh the other concerns.

 

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