In recent years, technology has heavily impacted scientists abilities to change the world. CRISPR is a recently discovered gene editing tool that is revolutionizing the way scientists are treating patients and curing diseases. Recent research has also found that CRISPR can be used to help mice infestations in certain parts of the world (random, but cool)!

CRISPR logoMice infestations are a problem in many islands, and CRISPR is here to help. Scientist believe they had found a way to make an entire mice population extinct (in a few decades) by using gene editing via CRISPR. In order to understand exactly how scientists plan on doing this, it is important to understand what a “haplotype” is. A haplotype is a set of genes that are inherited by the next generation together. The “regular house mouse” has what’s called a “t-haplotype,” and it’s passed down roughly 95% of the time (a lot compared to the normal 50%). The study states that male house mice with two t-haplotype copies become infertile, and females with two t-haplotype copies will become sterile as well. As we know from AP-Biology, when an organism has two copies of some gene, it is known as homozygous- meaning it has two of the same alleles of some gene. In this case the phenotype that makes the mouse homozygous would be the altered t-haplotypes. If a mouse has two of these altered t-haplotype genes, it becomes sterile and cannot reproduce.

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CRISPR plays a crucial role here – by using gene editing through CRISPR technology, scientists are able to edit the t-haplotype of the M. musculus house mouse so that next time a male M. musculus mates with a female, the offspring will become infertile. That’s right, CRIPSR can be used to completely alter and wipe an an entire M. musculus population over the course of a few years. By using computer technology, scientists predict that by adding just 256 “altered” mice to a certain island population of mice, an island of 200,000 mice can be fully wiped out within about 25 years.

Researchers in laboratoryScientists are hopeful, optimistic, and invested in CRISPR technology. The “25 years later” prediction is a long time to wait, and scientists hope that sometime in the future, CRISPR will be able to work faster, allowing problems to be solved more quickly and more efficiently. I think that this study is an important part of CRISPR potential, and it makes me very curious to see what CRISPR has in store for the future, and what other kinds of animal related issues it can help solve.

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