We always hear about how STDs like HIV can be fatal yet not curable. However, recent advances and research regarding CRISPR (which stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) has shown that there might be a potential solution for HIV’s. 


The Human immunodeficiency virus (HIVs) is an infection that attacks the human body’s immune system. Specifically, they attack the body’s white blood cells, which weakens the immune system and make humans more likely to get sick with some diseases like tuberculosis, infections and some cancers.


As of today, the technology and medicine developments allows those who are infected with HIV to take certain medicines that stops the virus from reproducing. As long as patients take the medicine everyday, the medicine provides a temporary remedy. 


However, the issue is that when people are first infected with HIV, the HIV viruses can insert their DNA into human’s immune cells, where they stay dormant. So when those that are infected with HIVs stop taking the medicine, the virus can “awaken” and start attacking the immune system again. Thus it is clear that the medicine cannot be a long term solution. 


Thanks to the CRISPR technology, there might be a potential solution to this issue. CRISPR is a gene editing technique that edits or deletes a specific part of a gene sequence, which has the ability to disable certain viruses. In this system, a DNA cutting protein called CAS-9 and the guide RNA molecule promote this process. This complex can locate specific locations in a gene sequence and CAS-9 can edit or delete that segment. 


While CRISPR is designed to be highly precise, there are still some risks associated with mutations for the technology. In CRISPR, the guide RNA is used to identify the specific sequences; however, there is the risk that it will identify a sequence that is similar to the target sequence and make unintended edits to the particular sequence. This can lead to undesired mutations that could have serious implications. In class, we learned about the different types of mutations that could take place, including silent, missense, nonsense, as well as frameshift. If the mutation happens to be a nonsense or frameshift mutation, it could cause serious implications as the large parts of the gene will either be not read at all, or it will be translated into completely unintended proteins. Nonetheless, despite the risks associated, scientists are now working to perfect the technology. 

As of now, the CRISPR technique has already been approved last year in the US and UK as a treatment for sickle cell anemia. For HIV, there has been research that shows that CRISPR could disable viruses in immune cells, making large progress. Although using CRISPR for HIV is relatively new, scientists have high hopes that this could be a potential solution for the disease. Personally, I think that the CRISPR technology is a revolutionary technology that could be the remedy for many different diseases that are associated with viruses. When taking into account both the revolutionary potentials provided by the CRISPR technology as well as the dangerous risks associated, what are your thoughts on this technology?

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