The CRISPR gene editing technique, which allows the genomes of living organisms to be modified using a simplified version of the CRISPR-Cas9 bacterial antiviral defencesystem isis considered of great importance in biotechnology and medicinsincence it enables the editing of organisms’ genomes. in vivo and in a very precise, economical and simple way.
The technique stems from adefence mechanismm that bacterial cells use against viruses, allowing them to snip and remove invading DNA. The application of this technique makes it possible to cut and edit DNA fragments in any type of cell with precision, making it possible to repair genetic defects or eliminate disease-causing genes. The technique uses a molecule called Cas9 that acts like molecular scissors to cut DNA with great precision at the desired locat. Anotherher molecule, a synthetic guie matchat matches the DNA fragment to be modified and directs Cas9 to the correct point in the genome. Once the DNA is cut, specific pieces of DNA can be inserted, removed, or replaced.
Progress in the knowledge of the genetic map now allows each genetic fragment to be associated with its function in the cell, making it possible to carry out manipulations perfectly oriented towards a specific purpose. In agriculture, for example, it is possible to obtain everything from seedless cherries – or at least, without the hard layer that protects the seed – to easier-to-eat vegetables to try to get many people to introduce them more into their diet, going through crops that absorb and fix more carbon dioxide.
In the food industry, we are seeing projects as striking as inserting a crocodile gene into catfish, not to modify their characteristics or appearance, but to provide them with a greater defence against infections that usually reduce production in aquaculture facilities: crocodiles have evolutionarily developed a high resistance to infections due to injuries inflicted in their territorial fights, and the possibility of this inserted gene passing to humans is not worrisome, because in fact, crocodile meat is consumed by many people without that causes any disturbance.
Creating animals that are more resistant to diseases, or with greater development of muscle mass for their consumption is something that has already been successfully tested in cows, pigs, sheep, rabbits and goatsexpertalso experiments with hens that only have female offspspringsince male offspring have to be systematically eliminated in the production chain and generate significant losses.
But beyond the food industry
or its application to medicine, such as altering a pig’s heart to eliminate the possible rejection of its transplant, we are beginning to enter more and more into the alteration of human genes for a wide range of applications. , from curing cardiovascular diseases, something already experienced in monkeys in 2020 and recently in a patient in New Zealand, which would reduce the production of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, to the insertion of genes that allow the immune system to detect and eliminate cancerous tumors.
From here, try to clarify the intellectual property barriers and the patent jungle that is being generated between the various companies involved in the research, and the regulatory or ethical barriers, with implications ranging from whether an organism subjected to CRISPR should be treated or not with the same regulation as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or if, on the contrary, it is rather something else that deserves a different regulation. Research depends to a large extent on its funding on the commercial viability of the products obtained, and the potential benefits are enormous. Will that serve to propose more advanced regulations, or will we continue with the same restrictions and controversies?
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