Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat, aka CRISPR is an ancient, yet surprisingly sophisticated technique that unicellular organisms such as bacteria and archaea use to destroy bacteriophagic and archaea-infective viruses. It is a list of genetic sequences that the prokaryotic lifeforms use to detect known phages and create antibodies for selectively destroying them.
Knowledge of the phage virus’s genetic constitution is inherited from remnants of past attacks/infections suffered by the prokaryotic strain. The list continues to grow within the bacterial/archaeal strains, every time a new duplodnaviria virus is faced and survived by the strain. In simpler words, CRISPR is the knowledge that bacterial and archaeal lifeforms use to rapidly create highly effective antivirals for themselves.
Human Intervention: CRISPR Gene Editing
CRISPR gene editing is a technique based on the same principles that the unicellular organisms use to keep troublesome viruses at bay, but it has been broadened in its scope and applicability by science. It allows molecular biologists to cut into specific cellular genomes to gain foreknowledge about potential vulnerabilities and immunities. Then that knowledge is used to genetically engineer the organism by:
- Adding genes that provide them with greater immunity against specific diseases, infections, and genetic disorders.
- Removing genes that reduce/eliminate the organism’s vulnerability/propensity towards certain diseases.
What Results has CRISPR Shown So Far?
As a genetic engineering technique, CRISPR shows great promise because the possibilities are virtually limitless here. Nevertheless, it’s still a technology in development. As of now CRISPR gene editing has been used to successfully:
- Slow down and even halt certain types of cancerous growths.
- Reverse the effects of muscular dystrophy.
- Treat sickle cell disease
Now, most of these experiments were conducted in a lab environment. It will take an indefinite amount of time and research studies to properly develop reliable treatment options from CRISPR-based genetic modification methods. Contact Hera Biolabs for more information on CRISPR and CRO gene editing services and their prospective usefulness in future treatments.
Getting Closer to Immunity Against Cancer
Preclinical oncology is the most promising department for CRISPR modification experiments right now. Lab results show that selective genetical modifications can potentially cure certain types of cancer. Given enough time, scientists could have enough data to eliminate the possibility of certain cancerous developments from our genetic structure itself. We are now closer to achieving complete immunity against certain types of cancer with the help of CRISPR-based gene modifications.
Theoretical Possibilities Beyond Cancer
Cancer is not the only disease that CRISPR can potentially cure in a not too distant future. Research is ongoing to find out how certain incurable diseases and infections can be cured or immunized against with gene editing. Conditions which are at the forefront of research right now would be:
- HIV infection and full blown AIDS
- Huntington’s disease
- Sickle cell disease
- Leber congenital amaurosis (congenital blindness)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy
A decade in the future, it isn’t entirely impossible that children will be able to receive shots that will provide them with immunity against cancer and HIV. Although it may seem almost fantastical right now, it is just a matter of how long it will take for scientists to identify the necessary genetic information.