The Dangerous Future

CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Inter-Spaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is a gene-editing technique that uses the bacterium Cas12a to remove a faulty gene in your DNA sequence before injecting a new fully functioning gene to replace it. CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) was first discovered in 1987 by Japanese team of scientists from Osaka University they hypothesized that the CRISPR gene could be used to cure diseases, Only recently did Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier proposed that CRISPR-Cas9 (enzymes from bacteria that control microbial immunity) could be used for programmable editing of genomes With the possibility of altering genes, there is a strong possibility that genetic diseases will become a thing of the past however it releases the potential of collapsing ecosystems and destroying delicate food chains.

https://cdn.the-scientist.com/assets/articleNo/67668/aImg/38385/crispr-1800×1260-l.png

CRISPR is not particularly risky, the main process involves injecting a bacterium that “breaks” a specific part of your genome, then inject a fully functioning strand of DNA from then the body will hopefully take on the newly injected gene, filling the break that was caused by the Cas12a bacteria. Compared to other gene-editing technologies this is quite safe, but there is the risk of genetic drives. When talking about Gene editing as a whole or more specifically gene drives, we refer to certain gene cells are either Somatic cells or Germline cells. Germline cells refer to sperm, egg and embryo cells which can, in theory, alter entire ecosystems as the genetically altered species will breed with the non-genetically altered species passing on the altered gene and so on, affecting ecosystems irreversibly. This irreversible altering is known as genetic drive and occurs when an irreversible change has been made to an Ecosystem. Making germline cells something you don’t want to “mess” with let alone edit. In the past this kind of altering has occurred on a smaller scale such as the Great Barrier reef where coastal mangroves, coral reefs, vegetated dunes, and coastal wetlands have been destroyed damaging the ecosystem. In certain countries, they have made editing germline cells illegal such as Australia, Germany, Austria and China. There have been cases of successful germline therapy such as the Chinese scientist He Jiankuibut that successfully modified the embryo of twin babies using CRISPR to be resistant to HIV, although this may seem a positive outcome it was not worth the risk of mutating a incurable disease that could be passed on to the rest of the world. The bad sadly outweighs the good with something like the collapse of entire ecosystems being at the center of this. You can see why these laws exist.

CRISPR – Cas9 has the potential to do a lot of good and help the world in ways that we never thought was possible, but it’s also very new and poses a threat to… well the world, with gene drives being a major possibility and genetic mutations possibly being caused by this germ line gene editing should not be legal to an everyday person and only be legal in certified labs and should be used on Humans with severe cases. This kind of technology shouldn’t be used on anything that could cause harm to the rest of the population. 

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