Genome editing has been the center of controversy since its emergence. There are differing opinions on the advent of this potent technology, which has completely reshaped how we look, how we live, and what we eat. While scientists are hopeful that gene editing will finally eradicate hereditary diseases, the common public is wary of its side effects and potential long-term impact on the world and mankind. Like all technological advancements, this one comes with its fair share of perks and quirks. Join us as we explore the pros and cons of gene editing.
- What Is Gene Editing?
- How Does Gene Editing Work?
- What Is the Future of Genome Editing Technology?
- Genome Editing: Friend or Foe?
What Is Gene Editing?
Gene editing, also called genome editing, is a technique that can be used to make precise changes to the genetic makeup (DNA) of living organisms. Scientists use special tools to cut DNA at specific locations and remove, replace, or add a new piece of genetic material. This process is called gene editing because it allows scientists to edit or change an organism’s genes in a specific way.
How Does Gene Editing Work?
Several different genome editing tools and techniques have been tested, but nothing has made as much of an impact as CRISPR-Cas9. CRISPR-Cas9 is a tool that can change the genes of living things. It allows geneticists to cut and alter the structure of a genome. It is currently the simplest and cheapest method to achieve genetic manipulation, which is why it has taken the world by storm.
CRISPR-Cas9 uses two things to change the DNA: an enzyme called Cas9 and a guide RNA. The guide RNA tells Cas9 where to cut the DNA so scientists can make specific gene changes.
With the introduction of CRISPR in genetic manipulation, scientists can edit genes in germline cells like eggs, sperm, and embryos. This wasn’t possible before, and science had only explored somatic cells, which include all cells in a living organism except reproductive cells.
What Is the Future of Genome Editing Technology?
Genome editing has been included in many vital areas of clinical practice, such as hereditary diseases, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. A successful instance of genome editing in cancer research is the development of CAR-T cell therapy.
This technique uses genome engineering to form white blood cells that spot and fight cancerous cells. The guide RNA is programmed to find cancerous cells within the body. Once it locates them, it gets to work and immediately destroys them. Scientists are now exploring different avenues to make this treatment work for other kinds of cancer.
Scientists have also found a way to use CRISPR-Cas9 technology to help fight bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. They do this by changing the genes of viruses that can kill bacteria so that they are powerful enough to destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This is important because millions of people get antibiotic-resistant infections that kill them.
An in-depth investigation is underway into how frequently occurring human diseases like viruses can be removed from the host’s body through CRISPR-Cas9 technology.
Genome Editing: What Are The Pros and Cons of Gene Editing?
As genome editing technology is making big waves worldwide, many people are concerned about the ethical issues that would arise with the advent of “designer humans.”
On the one hand, genome editing has finally made it possible to find a cure for cancer. According to WebMD, cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide, following cardiovascular diseases. The use of gene editing technologies has made it possible to combat both of these medical conditions, resulting in fewer deaths and higher life expectancies.
Genome editing can cure genetic diseases like sickle cell disease, potentially improving the quality of life for millions of people. By eradicating common diseases and viruses from the human body, genome editing could lead us to a longer lifespan. With such possibilities, this technology could become the ultimate elixir of life.
Genome editing technology also holds great promise in agriculture, as it can improve the quality and quantity of food production. With genetic modification, scientists can grow crops more resistant to harsh weather conditions and packed with essential nutrients.
Additionally, genome editing can extend the shelf-life of food, reducing waste and improving food security. This technology could revolutionize how we grow and consume food, ensuring a brighter future for future generations.
On the other hand, many people believe that altering the “substance of life” is like playing god. They think it is natural to catch diseases and die, so genetic mutation is a war on nature.
Some more serious concerns revolve around the safety of this technology. What is the overall impact of making a small change on a cellular level? How safe is it? The complete impact of genome editing on our lives is uncertain, and further experimentation is needed to address these concerns.
One major concern about genome editing technology is its accessibility. Even if it proves successful, it raises questions about who would have access to it. Would it only be available to the rich and powerful, or could it be a tool for improving healthcare and food security worldwide?
This issue is particularly relevant as genome editing can potentially provide revolutionary solutions for global problems like food scarcity and disease. To ensure that this technology benefits everyone, it is crucial to consider how it can be made accessible and affordable for all.
In conclusion, while there are valid concerns regarding the safety of genetic manipulation, it is essential to recognize that the benefits far outweigh the potential risks. The potential for genome editing to improve human health and food production is enormous, making it a technology worth exploring further. As we continue to explore the vast landscape of gene function alteration, it is vital to remain mindful of the pros and cons of gene editing. With the right mindset, we can use it as a tool to save the world.