Genetic Engineering, one of the ways for editing DNA, is basically a direct manipulation of an organism using biotechnology techniques. The first genetically modified animal was accomplished on 1973 by Rudolf Jaenisch. Followed by an antibiotic resistant gene inserted into a tobacco in 1983, leading to the first genetically engineered plant.
Gene Editing is quite expensive, complicated and took a long time to do, some of the genetically modified animals includes pigs with muscles, transparent frogs and even a glowing the dark fluorescent zebrafish. The process of Gene Editing has now changed with a new revolutionary technology called Cluster Regular Interspaced Short Palindromic or also known as CRISPR. This has minimized the cost of engineering to 99% and instead of a year, it takes for about a week to conduct such experiments.
|Artist perception of CRISPR-Cas9|
CRISPR-Cas9 is basically a genome editing tool that is faster, cheaper and more accurate than the previous gene editing DNA techniques and has a wide range of potential applications. In order for the CRISPR to work it needs two key molecules that will introduce change in the DNA these are Enzyme which acts as a cutting tool for cutting strands of DNA at a specific genome location, therefore, DNA can be added or removed and a piece of RNA which acts as a guide to the right part of the genome. This is to make sure that the Cas9 enzyme cuts the right point in the genome.
Cas9 follows the RNA guide into the location in the DNA sequence which makes a cut across both strands of the DNA. Then the gene editing takes place where it can add, remove or even repair damage DNA. Cas9 can be use by scientist to target and mutate one or more genes in the genome cell of interest.
CRISPR-Cas9 has a wide range of application for treating range of medical condition that have a genetic component which includes hepatitis B, high cholesterol or even cancer. It can end diseases, genetically design babies and even eternal youth.
According to the study of Xiao Yang, Targeted mutagenesis based on homologous recombination has been a powerful tool for understanding the mechanisms underlying development, normal physiology, and disease. A recent breakthrough in genome engineering technology based on the class of RNA-guided endonucleases, such as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-associated Cas9, is further revolutionizing biology and medical studies. The simplicity of the CRISPR-Cas9 system has enabled its widespread applications in generating germline animal models, somatic genome engineering, and functional genomic screening and in treating genetic and infectious diseases. This technology will likely be used in all fields of biomedicine, ranging from basic research to human gene therapy.
Still a few major challenges awaits CRISPR-Cas9 some technological, some ethical. This technology is not infallible yet, wrong editing still happens as well as unknown errors might occur in the DNA and might go unnoticed. Scientist are still studying and experimenting on how CRISPR-Cas9 will be infallible and be commercially available. Overall if Cas9 has succeded to be infallible then it will change the face of Genetic Engineering as well as the world.