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How does “Crisper” gene editing technology actually work?

CRISPR is a new tool for editing genomes or DNA sequences and modifies how genes work in our bodies. It has many potential applications, including correcting genetic defects, treating and preventing the spread of diseases, and improving the growth and resilience of crops. However, despite its promise, the technology also raises ethical concerns.

The way it works is actually very simple, it introduces an enzyme to the strand of DNA (a double helix) which cuts into the structure and adapts it.

 “CRISPR” (pronounced “crisper”) stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, which are the hallmark of a bacterial defence system that forms the basis for CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology. In the field of genome engineering, the term “CRISPR” or “CRISPR-Cas9” is often used loosely to refer to the various CRISPR-Cas9 and -CPF1, (and other) systems that can be programmed to target specific stretches of genetic code and to edit DNA at precise locations, as well as for other purposes, such as for new diagnostic tools.

The technique can be used to modify and remove problems or introduce new “plans” in the strand. This clearly means there are lots of ways we can use it to help us remove wanted problems in our bodies. However, we might also adapt our DNA with other DNA from other organisms.

Many researchers and are working on CRISPR but the Discovery of CRISPR goes to Francisco Mojica, University of Alicante, Spain in 1993. Francisco Mojica was the first researcher use the term CRISPR, He worked on them throughout the 1990s, and in 2000, he recognised that what had been reported as disparate repeat sequences actually shared a common set of features, now known to be hallmarks of CRISPR sequences (he coined the term CRISPR through correspondence with Ruud Jansen, who first used the term in print in 2002).

In the books the idea is to use this technique in tandem with Ion Torrent next-generation sequencing to try and help the human body regenerate lung function in near death patients.

Book Quote….

He called back that he had found more research which detailed the start of a trial of imported Sea Cucumbers from St Lucia.  Dr Riemann had used the DZIF “Ion Torrent” machine to work out the individual nucleotides in the Sea cucumber genome and the macaques in tandem with work done by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). It seemed that he had managed to get the eukaryotic respiratory cells from the macaque which has been spliced with cucumber DNA to take inside a simian host (the macaques). For aerobic respiration to take place it requires the presence of oxygen and glycolysis (pyruvate) in the TCA (Krebs) cycle to produce energy. The aerobic respiration is characteristic of eukaryotic cells when they have sufficient oxygen and most of it takes place in the mitochondria. Clearly with current issues with Covid-2-Sars (Covid-19) a lot of patients dying due to respiratory failure on a cellular level. This research was quite simply ground-breaking and maybe life changing for a victim close to death.

Clearly a very noble cause, but in this case, it goes horribly wrong as the DNA is re-written in the monkeys and causes a “virus” mutation which is spread by touch and through mucous contact. The story is not supposed to put anyone off CRISPER but as an example of science which can go wrong and personally the ideas are amazing. Clearly of course the question is, can humans be trusted to use this wisely!