CRISPR: A Powerful New Way to Edit DNA
What exactly is CRISPR?
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CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) is an exclusive molecular system, which aims to change the structure of genes and exclude potentially dangerous cells that can adversely affect a particular organism. By adding to a DNA chain, this system can edit some sectors and remove from them those genes that are harmful. Similarly, CRISPR fights against bacteria and viruses that enter the human body.
In what ways could humans apply this new technology for practical purposes?
According to scientists, the effect of this molecular system on the example of a man has not yet been investigated to the end. However, there are already some positive results: many dairy producers note the effectiveness of CRISPR in combating bacterial cultures that are contained in yogurts and cheese against harmful viruses (Pollack par.15). Moreover, scientists managed to conduct successful experiments on monkeys by changing their genes (Pollack par. 6)
How is CRISPR different from other gene-editing technologies?
Unlike some other technologies that change the structure of DNA, CRISPR completely disables a particular gene and does not just partially edit it (Pollack par. 32). The potential of this system is quite significant because it may help to change the chain of information embedded in a body even at the stage of development. CRISPR allows completely getting rid of a particular gene and convert it as required.
Summary of the Article
The article “A Powerful New Way to Edit DNA” by Andrew Pollack tells about a new innovative molecular system called CRISPR, its capabilities, and its applications. Scientists working on its creation conducted a series of experiments on living organisms and got a rather unexpected and certainly significant result. CRISPR proved that it could fight with various pathogenic viruses and completely change the chains of DNA, thereby preventing harmful and mutational changes. So far, no experiments on humans have been conducted. Nevertheless, scientists suppose that they will be able to prove the effectiveness of this system in treating various mutations and genetic changes at the embryo stage shortly enough (Pollack par. 7).
As for the pros, there are several positive aspects that the introduction of CRISPR can bring into medicine. First, as Pollack notes, it is a rather practical step from a commercial point of view (par. 12). Various food producers, as well as farmers, are ready to use this technology to preserve the quality of their products and prevent premature spoilage. Perhaps, such use of CRISPR will not be available to everyone but only to the most advanced companies since this system is unlikely to be cheap. Secondly, this method of genetic change substantially accelerates the process of work on rearranging a DNA chain. If earlier scientists needed a lot of time, now, according to Pollack, this procedure can be done in one step (par. 28). Probably, this feature of the system is one of the most evident and undeniable advantages.
However, the system has its cons. For example, CRISPR raises ethical issues (Pollack par. 10). Despite the success of experiments on animals, the introduction of the system into a human body can cause unforeseen consequences. Furthermore, a change in what is inherent to nature is perhaps too bold a step. Also, according to the author, a possible problem is the delivery of a necessary structure for those cells that need to be changed (Pollack 39). In case of failure, the outcome of such an experiment will be unforeseen. Thus, CRISPR is a rather controversial technology regarding the need for its use, but the fact of an innovative discovery that can change the world and nature of a person is significant and undeniable. The wealthiest people will likely be able to experience the impact of this system since its cost will certainly be high. Judging by the results, the humanity will gain access to CRISPR soon enough, and the whole world is watching how this program is being developed and when its visible results will appear.
Pollack, Andrew. “A Powerful New Way to Edit DNA.” The New York Times, 2014, Web.