In the past few years, CRISPR technology has gained attention within the scientific community as well as the rest of the globe. This is considered to be one of the most important scientific breakthroughs after the mapping of the human genome. We refer to CRISPR as Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat which in turn refers to the repeated DNA sequences found in the genome of bacteria as well as microorganisms.
In the past, the editing of genes had been expensive and laborious. Biologists had to load the genes onto viruses which were bound for target cells. Today, biologists are able to edit the DNA in no time.
CRISPR is a faster, easier and a less expensive technology employed by scientists and biologists to modify the genetic code.
It is being used in the healthcare industry for the development of new drugs while laying the basis for research of Xenotransplantation. Here are some healthcare industries that may be disrupted by this technology.
Scientists are using CRISPR for the development of new immunotherapies that can be used to treat cancer. The technology has been used for gene editing and has allowed scientists to understand cancer in a better way so as to explore more treatment options. Scientists may be able to genetically engineer immune cells or T-cells using this technology and be able to find and kill the cancer cells. Cancer patients may be injected with the modified T-cells which could then fight cancer.
This technology can be roped in to fight genetic diseases like muscular dystrophy, diabetes, genetic blindness, and cystic fibrosis. Genetic diseases occur due to a mutation in the DNA sequence. Several genes that are instrumental in causing genetic diseases have been identified. CRISPR can be used to repair these faulty genes helping cure many genetic disorders.
It is estimated that between 15 to 20% of pregnancies in the United States end in miscarriages. Understanding the genetic causes of miscarriages can be quite complex. Researchers have been using this technology to understand infertility better to find treatments. It has been found that a particular protein called OCT4 produced by a gene has been crucial in leading to the collapse of embryos. This would be the first of its kind of research conducted in human embryos. The study is only in its nascent stage, even mooting the concept of designer babies.
Diagnostic methods require patients to visit clinics so that doctors can extract biological samples that are then sent to a laboratory for diagnosis. The entire process is very time-consuming. Scientists have used a type of CRISPR protein that targets the RNA and this could be an inexpensive and Rapid tool that could be used for disease diagnosis.
The demands for organ transplants are far from being met. Scientists believe that CRISPR would create a revolution in organ transplantation. It has been found that Pig’s organs resemble human organs in appearance and function. The animal’s genome consists of retroviruses that could transmit diseases to humans. By using CRISPR technology these viruses could be removed for healthy offsprings, further leading to researches in Xenotransplantation. Xenotransplantation involves the transplantation of fluids, live cells, or organs from animals to humans.
It is clear that CRISPR holds a lot of promise for the future of medical science and will lead to substantial breakthroughs in the coming years.
Also read on the industries disrupted by CRISPR technology