Saturday, 19 August 2017

Gene editing and Crispr- cas9.

  Crispr-cas9 is an enzyme that acts like a pair of scissors and cuts strands of DNA.  It was isolated from bacteria and other single celled microorganisms, to deal with attacks by viruses and other micro organisms.   The bacteria protect themselves by cutting up and destroying the DNA of foreign invaders.   This allows scientists to snip a piece of DNA and replace it with a different piece.  This type of targeting is in its infancy but the technique is there and will become more precise very quickly. CRISPR stands for "clustered, regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats."  It is the quality of some bacterial DNA that enables them to create RNA, a single strand version of DNA, that seeks out DNA that matches its series of bases   The bacteria then sends a protein called 'Cas9' to attack the marked DNA.  The Cas9 can also be used to destroy and replace the targeted DNA with something better.
   The science is pretty difficult for folks without a science background and for some, like myself, who do.  A nice youtube diagrammatic explanation is worth looking at.    'CRISPR/Cas9 -how it works.' 
   At my stage in the game, my interest is more philosophical than scientific.  I have no doubt that the science will be mastered, that's only a matter of time.  The potential for good is as limitless as the potential for disaster.  Genetic diseases that were and are untreatable will be amenable as we become more skilful at tracking down the offending genes that nature has dealt to some and cutting them out or replacing them.   Gene editing is just beginning and very dangerous. The very nature of the human race may be radically altered.  Genetic interference may have outcomes that we cannot as yet imagine.   There will be major ethical issues to deal with in the use of these techniques to breed super and beautiful humans with perceived advantageous traits.  Mother nature will no longer direct human evolution.  Humans will do that.  Both physical and mental advantages may be for sale in the future.  In any event and for many reasons, we all need to  be informed about what is going on in the area of genetics.   A new semi-human species may be just around the corner.  
   Good luck!  We're going to need it.

No comments:

Post a Comment