Gene editing has always been under the limelight of medical research. From creating effective vaccines to finding cures for the previously incurable, genetic engineering has always lent a hand to the boggled scientists.
What Is A CRISPR System?
CRISPR also known as Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats is the name given to a specific set of DNA sequences present in the genome of some bacteria and archaea. This sequence is basically bacteria’s (prokaryote’s) natural anti-viral defense system that can be utilized for keeping the human population safe too. (1)
Genetic engineering and gene editing is a hectic process. However, the combination of the CRISPR sequence and a CRISPR-associated protein 9 (which is an enzyme) i.e. Cas-9 makes recognizing and cleaving strands of DNA easier than ever. We say with full authority that CRISPR-Cas9 is a massive revolutionary genome-editing tool.
The CRISPR-Cas9 system works efficiently by injecting the desired construct of DNA into the selected living organism. The construct consists of the Cas9 enzyme, an RNA sequence (known as the guide RNA), and the CRISPR sequence.
The guided RNA binds to the target sequence, causes the attachment of Cas9 to the guide RNA. This attachment is followed by cutting of the DNA strand that is mutated accordingly.
Why Do We Continue To Fall In Love With The CRISPR-cas9 System?
Well, there are a number of reasons why we love the CRISPR Cas9 technique. The major aspects that increase the liking of the CRISPR-Cas9 system in the hearts of genetic researchers are discussed below:
Efficient – The term efficiency covers multiple aspects i.e. cost, time, and effectiveness. This modern genome editing technique is superb at saving your time, cost and is pretty effective at the same time.
When used for detecting microRNAs, the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing system can save plenty of precious time and cost as well. (2)
This makes it ideal for use in:
- Prognosticating multiple diseases
As compared to laborious and time-consuming traditional methods, CRISPR/Cas9 system is quick and light on the pocket when it comes to screening. (3)
This gene-editing technique can be employed in the treatment of various health disorders. A major reason to adore the CRISPR/Cas-9 system is its performance against certain diseases.
This nefarious disease that obliterates thinking and cognition is believed to have a genetic basis. This biologically advanced system has shown promising results in diagnosing and curing memory loss disease.
CRISPR/Cas9 has the ability to target virtually any gene sequence and therefore, can be used as a therapeutic option in Alzheimer’s disease. (4)
The disruption of the Swedish APP allele (using CRISPR/Cas9 technique) can be fruitful for patients suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The therapeutic effect is achieved by bringing correcting the point mutations associated with increased amyloid-β. (5)
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
Getting infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) can turn your world upside down. The mere inability of doctors to treat this mysterious disease leaves many patients devastated.
The powerful gene-editing tool can do wonders for AIDS patients. CRISPR/Cas9 based gene editing can be used as gene therapy to alleviate symptoms of AIDS. (6)
According to the research by Huang, Z. et al., the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technique can disrupt and eliminate the HIV-integrated genomes which can lead to complete eradication of HIV and satisfactory recovery. (7) The guided RNAs from the CRISPR/Cas9 system are quick in screening and diagnosing HIV proviruses in the cells. (8)
This method of gene editing can be useful in developing treatments and testing the efficacy of already present anti-cancer drugs. The revolutionary tool for editing genes has the potential to enhance cancer research and diagnosis. Therefore, it is expected to greatly accelerate research in many areas. (9)
The clustered regularly interspace palindromic repeats-CRISPR associated 9 technique can help alter the genomic sequence of cancer genetics. (10)
With optimization CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing can become a successful development in treating cancer patients. (11)
Industrial advancements have filled the earth with unwanted, harmful waste products. The constantly burning chimneys of factories pose grave threats to the climate while man is busy polluting its only haven.
Non-decomposing waste i.e. plastic has a widespread application. Environmentalists have been ringing the bells regarding the takeover of this menace but there seemed to be no way out. But now, with the CRISPR system scientists can utilize yeats to make hydrocarbons from sugars. (12)
This production will reduce the usage of petroleum-based plastics.
Development Of New Drugs
The CRISPR system has been used to improve drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME) that allows for the development of new drugs. (13)
The big pharmaceutical companies are now investing a lot of money in CRISPR techniques to develop drugs for different conditions:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Blood disorders
- Eye disorders (blindness)
Scientists are of the view that this modern method of gene editing can be used to eradicate malaria. Using the CRISPR technique researchers have deleted segments of mosquito DNA leading to the creation of mosquitoes that are resistant to malaria.
CRISPR/Cas9 also finds application in the livestock industry. The Chinese love and use the CRISPR technique in the livestock to delete genes in animals that inhibit muscle and hair growth to meet the country’s meat and wool requirements.
This very technique increases efficiency, enhances pest control, and helps meet the food demand of the world. (14)
In addition to animals, CRISPR treatment can help improve crop disease resistance. If successful, this method can save millions of acres of land from going wasted at the hand of infections.
Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats represents a DNA sequence present in prokaryotes that protects them against viral infestations. Genetic engineers have combined the CRISPR system with CRISPR-associated protein 9 (an enzyme).
The researchers and engineers love it alike because of the benefits it imparts including greater efficiency, treatment (Alzheimer’s, cancer, etc.), food industry boosts, and community services.
- Tao, Pan, Xiaorong Wu, and Venigalla Rao. “Unexpected evolutionary benefit to phages imparted by bacterial CRISPR-Cas9.” Science advances 4.2 (2018): eaar4134.
- Qiu, Xin-Yuan, et al. “Highly effective and low-cost microRNA detection with CRISPR-Cas9.” ACS synthetic biology 7.3 (2018): 807-813.
- Guo, Jinggong, et al. “A simple and cost-effective method for screening of CRISPR/Cas9-induced homozygous/biallelic mutants.” Plant methods 14.1 (2018): 1-10.
- Rohn, Troy T., et al. “The potential of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing as a treatment strategy for Alzheimer’s disease.” Journal of Alzheimer’s disease & Parkinsonism 8.3 (2018).
- György, Bence, et al. “CRISPR/Cas9 mediated disruption of the Swedish APP allele as a therapeutic approach for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.” Molecular Therapy-Nucleic Acids 11 (2018): 429-440.
- Xiao, Qiaoqiao, Deyin Guo, and Shuliang Chen. “Application of CRISPR/Cas9-based gene editing in HIV-1/AIDS therapy.” Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology 9 (2019): 69.
- Huang, Z., et al. “Current application of CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technique to eradication of HIV/AIDS.” Gene therapy 24.7 (2017): 377-384.
- Huang, Zaohua, and Madahavan Nair. “A CRISPR/Cas9 guidance RNA screen platform for HIV provirus disruption and HIV/AIDS gene therapy in astrocytes.” Scientific reports 7.1 (2017): 1-12.
- Zhan, Tianzuo, et al. “CRISPR/Cas9 for cancer research and therapy.” Seminars in cancer biology. Vol. 55. Academic Press, 2019.
- Sánchez-Rivera, Francisco J., and Tyler Jacks. “Applications of the CRISPR–Cas9 system in cancer biology.” Nature reviews cancer 15.7 (2015): 387-393.
- Martinez-Lage, Marta, et al. “CRISPR/Cas9 for cancer therapy: hopes and challenges.” Biomedicines 6.4 (2018): 105.
- Rahman, Ziaur, et al. “A critical analysis of bio-hydrocarbon production in bacteria: current challenges and future directions.” Energies 11.10 (2018): 2663.
- Karlgren, Maria, et al. “CRISPR-Cas9: a new addition to the drug metabolism and disposition tool box.” Drug Metabolism and Disposition 46.11 (2018): 1776-1786.
- Menchaca, A., et al. “CRISPR in livestock: From editing to printing.” Theriogenology 150 (2020): 247-254.