CRISPR is a revolutionary tool used for editing the human genome. It allows for the altering of any given DNA sequence and ability to modify any one specific genes’ function. Its applicability consists of correcting genetic defects, treating and preventing the spread of diseases, and improving crops. However, it also raises some ethical concerns, that of which mainly is the idea that practicing CRISPR technology could be considered as playing the role of “God”.
CRISPR was adapted from the natural defense mechanisms of bacteria, which use CRISPR-derived RNA and Cas proteins, to prevent attacks by viruses and other intruding organisms. They do so by chopping up and destroying the DNA of the virus. When these components are derived and applied to more complex, organisms, it allows for the manipulation of genes.
Disregarding its ethical concerns, CRISPR can provide substantial support to a previously uncharted area of medicine; the diagnosing and treating of genetic disorders, which was previously thought to be that if one had a genetic disorder it would be incurable. Clinical trials are set to take place both in Europe and in North America, where patients with rare genetic disorders will give cellular samples in an attempt to alter their genome, implant them back into the individual, and hopefully cure the genetic abnormality.
With CRSPR taking such progressive strides in the past year, it is not outrageous to predict what its usage could end up providing society with. With the ability to edit the human genome there are endless possibilities in which science could evolve this area of study to benefit the human race. CRISPR can even be used to boost the expected intelligence of an embryo. Who knows, thirty years from now we could be watching the news and hear of the first ever “superhuman”, a genetically modified human that has been hand-coded for optimality in all human functions.