The world is constantly changing. The climate is changing. Financial markets change around the clock. Likewise, the landscape of gene editing has drastically changed over the last decade. A key component of this change is the development of CRISPR.

The incredibly accurate gene editing technology CRISPR is revolutionizing cancer research and treatment. Scientists have been looking for a simple technique to reverse these alterations by modifying DNA since they learned that mutations in DNA are the root cause of cancer.

How does CRISPR work?

In order to edit the strand of DNA, and thus the composition of the gene, the DNA must be cut into pieces. This can be done using enzymes (restriction enzymes), which are able to specifically target sections of the DNA strand based on the code, and break the intermolecular forces and covalent bonds present. The specific enzyme used to do this for CRISPR is the cas9 enzyme. Cas9 is a type of endonuclease which is able to specifically locate a region of genetic code, guided by an RNA sequence, and cut the strand of DNA into 2 strands. This guiding RNA binds to the cas9 enzyme and locates a specific region or code of bases in the DNA strand for the DNA to be cut. Thus, specific guiding RNA strands can be used to cut specific individual DNA sequence codes. This ultimately means that CRISPR technology can be used for many different types of medical uses, according to where the problem in the DNA is present. This makes CRISPR a very versatile form of technology that could revolutionize the future of DNA editing and possibly the future of medicine.

After the DNA is cut into specific pieces, the DNA strand undergoes a natural repair process through already present enzymes such as DNA polymerase I and III. This process happens rapidly and replicates many copies of the now-changed DNA.

Types of Uses of CRISPR

CRISPR is used for three main purposes: deletion, modification, and correction. Specific regions of DNA sequences can be modified, completely deleted or corrected in order to reduce the effect of the defect in the DNA. This could include mutations causing cancer for example. A new piece of DNA sequence can also be inserted into the already present sequence to ensure correct gene expression. Ultimately, gene editing can completely change the DNA sequence in a safe and effective manner, which can rapidly reduce the risk of extension of diseases; the technology is life-changing.

Real-life applications of CRISPR

CRISPR truly revolutionizes many fields in the world, from medicine to agriculture. CRISPR is not only much faster than previous gene editing technology, but it is also much more economical. This means that it is accessible to many people around the world. As mentioned before, CRISPR can be used to cure genetic diseases such as cancer, but it can also be used to genetically modify crops to make them resistant to weather conditions such as droughts. This means that the agriculture industry can adapt to climate change.