The CRISPR/Cas9 System Case Study

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The CRISPR/Cas9 system is a system currently being studied for use as a genetic modification method. It was discovered by scientists working with bacterial cells. It was discovered that bacterial cells utilize a defense system in which they identify viruses that are invading and “chop up” their DNA. This defense mechanism is composed of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats found within the genome of bacteria. This is the origin of the CRISRP acronym. These CRISPR sequences are specific patterns of DNA sequences that are capable of being edited out of genes. Using the CRISPR system, bacteria are able to destroy the genome of invading viruses and thus prevent the virus from being able to replicate and survive in its host. …show more content…
The system allows researchers to easily create many animal models of diseases that were previously found to be difficult to do because creating these models was slow and costly. The system could be used to correct mutant genes that cause genetic disorders, getting rid of the disease overall. In 2014, a study was done by scientists at MIT in which the CRISPR/Cas9 system was used to cure mice of a rare genetic liver disorder. There are a wide variety of other genetic disorders that have the possibility of being treated with this biotechnology. These include hemophilia, huntington’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and muscular dystrophy. Patrick Hsu, a bioengineer at the Sulk Institute for Biological Studies, has begun studies using this biotechnology to model neurodegenerative disorders using monkeys. This is a huge advancement, for this would be a much more effective model than the previous mouse models being used. Another study has been done at Harvard in which the CRISPR/Cas9 system is being used to knock out the gene known to cause obesity. Researchers have also used this technology to reverse mutations that cause blindness and stop cancer cells from multiplying. The fact that this technology allows researchers to successfully do these things using model organisms opens up many possibilities for the use of using this technology to treat various diseases in …show more content…
For instance, the CRISPR/Cas9 system could be used for germline editing in human embryos. A british researcher, Dr. Kathy Niaken has been given permission to do this. She plans to use the CRISPR system to study and understand the genetic “switches” that occur as a fertilizied egg progresseses. This study will lead to a better understanding of development of human emryos, which could in turn possibly lead to to treat infertility in the future. This would not be the first use of CRISPR on human embryos. This first known use was in April 2015. A researcher named Junjiu Huang at Sun Yat-sen University in China used this system to try to edit a defective gene that causes beta thalassemia, a blood disorder. As this technology advances, there are many ethical questions that have arrived surrounding its possible uses, mostly with the use of embryos. As more and more is learned about this technology, it is questioned if it may someday be able to be used for parents to choose certain traits their child could

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