Discuss the applications of CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors that have revolutionized the genome editing technique.
All life on earth including humans is made up of cells, whose centre is called as the nucleus and has chromosomes inside it. In the nucleus of human cell, there are 23 pairs of chromosomes. The chromosomes are made up of DNA and contain nitrogenous bases which make life possible due to their encoded information.
- Using components of CRISPR system, scientist can add, remove, or alter specific DNA.
- The changes in the DNA can be somatic or germline.
- The somatic changes will not be passed onto the next generation, while the germline changes are inherited and passed on to next generation.
This technology has led to a significant impact on Biology, Medical, and Agriculture fields.
- Curing of genetic diseases, such as cancer, melanoma, heart diseases, etc.
- Creation of genetically modified organism that can create chemicals such as insulin at our whims and fancies.
- Development of genetically modified crops with pesticidal properties like BT-cotton, GM-Mustard, etc.
- Designer babies – make changes such as nose, hair, colour, height, etc. This has raised many ethical concerns.
Science is value-neutral; hence the result of technological progress is dependent on our value system. Hence, great amount of debate is needed on the applications.