Have you heard of CRISPR? How about the bacterial disease melioidosis? If you do or do not, this is the article for you! Using this article by ScienceDaily, I will explain the bacterial disease, where it is found, and how CRISPR saves millions of lives!

First, let me explain melioidosis, also known as Whitmore’s disease. Melioidosis is a tropical disease caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. This bacteria lives in soil and water in (sub)tropical regions and enters humans through cut, ingestion, or inhalation. This killer bacteria affects approximately 165,000 people worldwide each year, of whom 89,000 die. Now, you may be asking, why are so many people dying? Well, melioidosis is hard to diagnose. From the varying symptoms, such as pneumonia or localized abscess, it presents as many different, more common diseases. Due to this, melioidosis can only be diagnosed after bacterial samples are cultures, taking 3-4 days to get the results. This is why the death rate is so high. In one of the high-carrying countries, Thailand, almost 40% of patients die, most in the first to second days. Another question may be, if we know about it, why don’t we just vaccinate? Here is the issue: There is no licensed vaccine for the disease, which can only be treated with I.V. antibiotics. If you do not receive the antibiotics, according to the CDC, up to 9 out of every 10 people who get it die. Personally, hearing this made me upset; we must do something!

Rapid Test PSE

Don’t worry! Here is where CRISPR, a life-saving test, comes in. First, to start, CRISPR stands for clustered, regularly interspaced shower palindromic repeats, and according to the National Human Genome Research Institute, it is a technology that research scientists use to selectively modify the DNA of living organisms. (That will be important later). In the DaileyScience article, researchers identified a genetic target specific to B. pseudomallei by analyzing over 3,000 genomes! While doing this, they also screened the test against other pathogens and human host genomes to ensure the only target was our killer bacteria. The test’s name is CRISPR-BP34! Now, you may be asking, cellanie.. tell me how it works! And I am here to answer! How the test works by rupturing the bacterial cells and using a recombinase polymerase amplification reaction to amplify the bacterial target DNA. The only step left was to see how effective the test was. The researchers sampled 114 patients with the disease and 216 without, and the test showed a sensitivity of 93%. That is an amazing result, especially because it can be done in less than four hours! So, given the success of this CRISPR test, it has significantly helped and changed the lives of many, saving them from death.

DNA transcription

As an A.P. Biology student, I want to connect it to something we are learning about in our class. We learned in our class about the genomes the CIRSPR test was looking for and what happens when they are identified. The genomes that the bacteria affect make it unique, which is why the test was able to become sensitive to it. Through CRISPR-based tests, which can pinpoint distinct genetic markers exclusive to B. pseudomallei, scientists learn about the bacterium’s genomic makeup, allowing the development of focused gene editing tactics. The test and being able to see the bacteria’s genetic makeup emphasizes how precise genome editing methods, such as CRISPR-Cas9, can be. As well as how it can be used to directly modify the genomes of B. pseudomallei. With my knowledge as an A.P. Bio student, I believe researchers can investigate how to improve antibiotic susceptibility or even create attenuated strains for vaccine development with this new understanding of the genetic composition of the bacteria. Thank you for reading my blog! I hope you now know what CRISPR and melioidosis are…. and if you don’t…. feel free to read my blog AGAIN!


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