Off-Switch Discovered For CRISPR-Cas9 Gene Editing Tool

Posted: Jan 4 2017, 7:55am CST | by , in Latest Science News


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Off-Switch Discovered for CRISPR-Cas9 Gene Editing Tool
  • CRISPR Gene Editing Technology may have an “Off” Switch

It looks like CRISPR gene editing technology may have an “off” switch.

CRISPR gene editing technology has had a lot written about it in the past 365 days or so. It is an ideal method of cutting and pasting genes. Diseases can thus be easily deleted from one’s genetic repertoire.

Genetic ailments may also be prevented right from the beginning. In November of last year, CRISPR was used on lung cancer patients. The trials showed that there was indeed hope for humanity as far as lung cancer was concerned.

Yet despite everything going in its favor, CRISPR has certain issues in it. It is a novel technology and like all novel methods it has a few side effects that are only beginning to be revealed.

This fallout could prove detrimental if CRISPR was used frequently in human beings. There is good news though. Scientists may have found an “off” switch for CRISPR that halts its onset at any moment in time, according to a study published in the journal Cell.

Many researchers and ethicists are concerned lest CRISPR is put to nefarious uses. It is like we are monkeys playing with matchboxes in a dynamite factory.

The dangers are indeed there and will have to be safeguarded against. Any and all side effects of CRISPR will be negated this way and the gene editing tool can be used to help an ailing humanity.

The “off” switch is a sort of safety catch, according to ScienceAlert. The only issue is that the changes once they are made are very hard to reverse. This is not a drawing board where you can wipe what is written with a marker with a single swipe of the duster.

To go back and correct any problems takes monumental effort. While what is done is done, as far as CRISPR is concerned, the “off” switch can make the whole mechanism grind to a halt anytime.

CRISPR acts like a pair of miscroscopic pinking shears. The method was first employed in bacteria. It stopped viral infestation of bacteria. Once a bacteria gets some viral matter inside it, it locks it in capsule form and this is called CRISPR.

If the infection occurs again, the Cas9 which is an enzyme hunts the viral strands and disables them. The methodology is still in its nascent phase. Many obstacles still lie in the perfecting of this technique.

CRISPR is the right instrument yet in the wrong hands it could lead to dangerous results. To have the “off” switch is rather like an emergency button that could be pressed anytime things go wrong in gene editing.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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