Who would have thought that there was a way in which genes could be edited in a sense that even mammoth elephants could be in existence again? Well with the new technology, of CRISPR/Cas9 Dr Church believes that it is possible to recreate an extinct mammophant which would be made possible by editing various genes form elephants with the help of this technology (Wood, 2017). CRISPR/Cas9 is a gene editing tool technology which enables precise editing of single strands of DNA (Feibus, 2017). CRISPR/Cas9 technology would aid in erasing specific mutations that cause diseases and viruses such as those which promote AIDS, the Zika virus and other diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. Extensive research is being conducted with efforts on how to improve CRISPR/Cas9, and as such there have been numerous investments directed towards this sector with an injection of billions because there has been an evident breakthrough. In the year 2015, scientists were able to correct the eyesight of a mouse that had been blind by restoring its sight with the help of CRISPR/Cas9 (Feibus, 2017). With further development of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology, it will be possible to prevent the extinction of some of the endangered species as well as prevent the prevalence of life-threatening diseases.
CRISPR/Cas9 will enable the erasure of specific gene mutations that lead to the development of diseases. Genome editing, when done with precision, has the capability of eliminating permanently illnesses which are a threat to human life. Researcher Ebina et al. used CRISPR/Cas9 technology to correct and edit the promoter of HIV-1 strain and this then reduced how the HIV-1 expressed itself in the cells of human beings that are prone to be affected by this virus (Zhang, Wen, & Guo, 2014). Further CRISPR/Cas9 can be used to reduce the occurrences of neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's disease which is usually as a result of the expansion of some genes that are unstable. Recently, researchers were able to reduce the size of the Huntington's disease gene the HTT CAG ad it resulted in the cells dying thus decreasing the chances of the disease dominating and as such this proves that the technology is useful (Shin & Lee, 2018). There will be an application of CRISPR/Cas9 in ensuring that animals and plants are also included in the technology, and the animals that are bound to be extinct will kept alive longer with the technology.
According to Dr George Church, his research aims to bring back an extinct mammoth which is produced through editing some of the genes of an elephant and fusing them with the egg of a mammoth. The mammophant, if it comes to be will help in reducing the effects of greenhouse gases on the environment. Dr Church and other researchers aim at extracting some genes from an elephant and editing them. Further using the egg of an elephant and to modify its genetic content to form the egg of a mammophant and further test its viability (Wood, 2017). Once it is viable, they will find a way for it to be carried to term. Even though they have only done around 45 gene edits of an elephant and they have thousand other edits to conduct, they are hopeful that they will be successful soon (Wood, 2017). Besides the mammophant, some researchers in Chile are looking for ways to use the CRISPR/Cas9 editing technology of snipping and splicing genes to create a dinosaur out of the genes of a chicken (Wood, 2017). These possibilities of recreating some animals that existed a long time ago will give hope that our children can maintain still the animals that live currently because their genes will be ripped off of any mutations that might cause their extinction. There have been challenges to the technology, however, because the wrong genes might be targeted and thus result in risky gene mutations.
There have been concerns with the CRISPR/Cas9, and this is because researchers believe that there may be instances of off-targeting. Compared to other gene editing techniques such as ZFNs and TALENs, there are higher chances of targeting the wrong gene with the CRISPR/Cas9 method. This could lead to the death of specific cells in human beings or even to the genes transforming in ways that could be dangerous (Zhang, Wen, & Guo, 2014). There are usually identical DNA sequences, and with the scientists targeting one, there could be a possibility that the other identical DNA sequence could be targeted by CRISPR/Cas9 mistakenly. However scientist, Xiao et al. have come up with a way to reduce chances of off targeting and this is the development of a flexible search tool known as CasOT which will ensure that the specified gene is correctly identified for editing (Zhang, Wen, & Guo, 2014).
In conclusion, CRISPR/Cas9 could make endless possibilities possible, and this would make the world a whole lot better. With the elimination of life-threatening diseases, human beings will be able to live more fulfilling lives. CRISPR/Cas9 will help with removal of conditions such as HIV, Alzheimer's, Huntington's disease, and Zika Virus among others enabling erasure of specific mutations which make them prevalent. Re-creation of extinct animals will be possible and even though not the exact creatures there can be a mammophant which will look like the mammoth. However, there are some concerns with regards to this technology of CRISPR/Cas9 which is that there may be some form of off-targeting which may result in the target of the wrong genes but scientists hope that they will be able to correct this challenge by decreasing the chances of off-targets. Researchers are hoping to eliminate the problem of off-targeting by introducing a searching tool known as the CasOT which will ensure that only the targeted genes are edited.
Feibus, M. (2017, July 24). Are we ready to play God? Retrieved May 13, 2018, from USA Today:http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A499215368/OVIC?u=cuny_ccny&sid=OVIC&xid=55a6182d
Shin, J. W., & Lee, J.-M. (2018). The prospects of CRISPR-based genome engineering in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. Therapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders , 11, 1-11.
Wood, C. (2017, February 16). We can clone a woolly mammoth. But should we? Retrieved May 14, 2018, from Christian Science Monitor: https://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2017/0216/We-can-clone-a-woolly-mammoth.-But-should-we
Zhang, F., Wen, Y., & Guo, X. (2014). CRISPR/Cas9 for genome editing: progress, implications and challenges. Human Molecular Genetics , 23 (1), 41-46.
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