CRISPR gene editing is a precise technique that uses the Cas9 enzyme and gRNA to modify DNA sequences in an organism’s genome. This method is inspired by a natural bacterial mechanism that protects against viruses. It can change existing genes, introduce new genetic material, and revolutionize fields such as industry, agriculture, and medicine.
CRISPR gene editing was first invented in 1987 by Ishino Etal. Scientists first hypothesized that prokaryotic cells use this method as part of their adaptive immune systems. However, this method was not elucidated until 2007. This gene-editing technique uses RNA molecules to direct the Cas9 enzyme to the precise location where the DNA strands are being cut, thus allowing genetic materials to be modified or added. To be more specific, this system relies on the enzyme’s ability to cleave DNA double helix strands at a particular location, allowing scientists to modify the DNA sequence. This technique is especially beneficial to the medicinal fields due to its specificity; it can potentially treat genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, or cancer by modifying the immune cells and directing them to target and kill cancer cells.
Despite the benefits, CRISPR also contains some serious risks. A specific protein called p53, also known as the “guardian of the genome,” helps to detect any damage in the DNA and thus; heads the cells to stop diving to prevent any mistakes. The CRISPR technique might trigger a p53 response, in which edited cells can be “tagged” as damaged and eliminated, thus reducing the efficiency of the gene editing process. However, recent research also indicates that CRISPR can lead to cell toxicity and genome instability. In addition, CRISPR may disrupt normal cell functioning, which leads to cells being unable to detect any DNA damage or extra cell division, thus increasing the risk of further mutations.
Nonetheless, CRISPR still goes deep down into our biology field as it contains molecular biology, where it goes deep down into the cells and modifies DNA sequence. However, changing an organism’s DNA sequence using CRISPR gene-editing technology could have unintended consequences such as off-target effects, incomplete editing, and unknown long-term effects such as cancer or DNA mutation if the matching went wrong.