Ten years ago, the world had yet to be formally introduced to the term “gene editing.” Now, scientists all over the world are researching the harmful and beneficial effects of gene editing. Plant geneticists want to breed the high yield plant while critics warn against modified food’s undesirable effects on health and the ecosystem. Medical specialists wish to cure hereditary diseases, but ethicists fear that these concepts create the designer human being. Fortunately, the pros of genome editing seem too far outweigh the concerns.
Pros of Genome editing:
In 2015, somatic gene therapy was used by a scientist in a 1 year-old boy in the UK, who received gene-editing treatment to successfully aid in the child’s fight against Leukemia. Some of the findings gene editing has discovered are:
- Before discovering nucleases, modification in mammalian cells’ genetics was very intensive, challenging, and costly. However, with the development of friendly gene technologies, cell lines containing gene editing can be identified in under a week’s time.
- Because of gene editing, several practices like gene knocking, gene inversion, gene addition, gene correction, etc., have been introduced into the world of science.
- In addition to cell engineering, many transgenic species have been developed including zebrafish, rats, monkeys, and livestock.
- CRISPR-Cas9 and TALENs have altered multiple alleles within the hexaploid bread wheat. It has been used to knock out the non-mandatory genes in the fatty acid pathway from soybeans to make it a simple metabolic component.
- Technology is also applicable to treat many infectious diseases by inactivating the pathogenic genes. It helps in engineering the pathogen resistance gene in the body.
- Gene drive is a technique that is used to control mosquito or insect-borne diseases by gene editing.
- Targeted nucleases in gene editing also offer the necessary means for generating the modified yeast and bacterial strains.
- It has a tremendous ability to treat the associated genetic causes of underlying diseases such as cystic fibrosis and diabetes, but one of the most successful examples is the human immunodeficiency virus.
- It helps to create the model organism in the research sector. The development of transgenic food is also a good measure by genome technology.
- Extinct species like the woolly mammoth can be revived by changing the recovered genes. However, we can do this by mixing the genes of old and existing species. CRISPR effectively cuts and adds the gene in the simplest possible way. So soon, fiction science will become reality.
- Gene editing can change the muscularity, height, eye/hair color, memory, etc. but editing a trait like intelligence is not yet possible.
- Gene editing can extend the life span of humans by reversing the most critical and fundamental reasons. It works by changing the reasons for the natural body and declines on a cellular level. Diseases which can kill the human earlier than necessary can be cured by gene editing.
With proper laws and legislation over its usage and applications, gene editing will be a monumental advancement to science.
Gaj, Thomas, et al. “Genome-Editing Technologies: Principles and Applications.” Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 1 Dec. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5131771/.
“Genome Editing in Plants: An Overview of Tools and Applications.” International Journal of Agronomy, Hindawi, 3 July 2017, www.hindawi.com/journals/ija/2017/7315351/.
Li, Hongyi, et al. “Applications of Genome Editing Technology in the Targeted Therapy of Human Diseases: Mechanisms, Advances and Prospects.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 3 Jan. 2020, www.nature.com/articles/s41392-019-0089-y.