How And Why Do Scientists Edit Genes?

By Petersen Randall / September 19, 2018

DNA is considered to be an essence of the life of every living creature since literally all the information required to determine every single trait about a given creature is stored within the DNA sequence. The total amount of DNA material with all the codes and integrated data is usually referred to as genome. Somatic cells contain double-strains of DNA and its amount and characteristics are constant in each cell in one body and the germ cells contain half of that amount. DNA material contained within germ cells is combined among parents and transferred onto the next generations via reproduction. This means that somewhere in your genome is store the code that determines everything: the color of your eyes, the traits of your liver or kidney, as well as some of your mental characteristics.

What is genome editing?

Genome editing is the scientific procedure of modifying DNA sequences by cutting some precisely defined sequences and replacing them, duplicating or deleting them or changing them in any other way. Specific vectors and proteins are used to perform this procedure and indications and implications are many. After sequences are cropped out, integrated repairing mechanisms stitch DNA ends back together and the altered DNA is continuing to regulate biological processes in somewhat desired different manner. The idea of performing and utilizing this strategy isn’t new, but it took decades for science and technology to manage to do it successfully.

The idea was primarily created as a strategy for fighting some genetic diseases and mutations that caused various disorders and defects in the human body, but many other potential utilizations have been recognized over the years. Since DNA regulates everything in our body, including metabolism, energy flow, protein secretion, organ construction, immune response to diseases and myriad of other essential functions, all of which can be distorted and faulty, it was necessary for scientists to decode complete genome and precisely target location of every sequence controlling every function.

How is genome editing performed?

There are several genome editing techniques being developed in many labs worldwide, but the most promising one includes CRISP – Cas9 complex. So far, it’s given the best results, it’s easy to conduct, relatively cheap and safe. Both components are protein complexes capable of altering DNA sequences by recognizing specifically targeted DNA parts and cutting them out. CRISP component functions as the navigation, the guiding system that locates desired genes or inter-genes controlling sequences and Cas9 is an associated protein using lytic reactions to cut DNA at precise spots.

Use of gene editing in medicine

Medicine isn’t the only scientific field that takes advantage of genome editing technology, so do various biotechnology industries and their branches, since it can alter DNA not only in humans but in bacteria, herbs, and animals as well. Medical scientists use it widely to explore the origins of various human traits, to detect primary causes of various diseases and finally to try to intervene directly and reverse numerous conditions by fixing DNA at the spot. This is particularly promising in the field of genetic disorders and heritable diseases.



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    Petersen Randall

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