Wed, 06 Dec 2023

Emerging Technologies: Gene Editing

08 Feb 2023, 03:01 GMT+10

Gene editing, also known as genome editing, enables humans to modify DNA manually. CRISPR-Cas9 is one of the numerous gene-editing methods available. Clustered, regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats were developed in 2012 by a team of French and American scientists and are safer, faster, and more effective than prior gene editing approaches.

It was created by imitating the adaptive immune systems of certain microorganisms. Infected with a virus. When infected with a virus, these bacteria can reproduce portions of the pathogen's RNA to preserve it. This enables them to "remember" the viruses and employ their components to defend against future attacks. In this technique, Cas9 is a particular enzyme; however, other enzymes like Cpf1 can also be employed. Using this method, scientists can remove, add, or replace specific portions of DNA to alter its functionality.

Genome editing enables scientists to eliminate genetic disorders, including those for which there are presently no therapies. It could also repair damaged DNA and function as a miracle drug. Gene modification was rated the most important breakthrough of the last decade by Irish Times readers in 2019, surpassing even smartphones. Nonetheless, more nefarious actors may utilize gene editing to spread diseases rather than cure them. Like any technology, it has advantages and disadvantages.


As stated previously, gene editing can serve as a panacea because it can heal various mutations and diseases and prolong life. For example, immune cells with altered DNA can attack cancer cells more precisely. Doctors might also "erase" genetic or hereditary disorders from patients' DNA, such as Huntington's disease, cystic fibrosis, and sickle cell anemia. Additionally, scientists could use CRISPR to generate novel medications, treatments, or antibiotics targeting extremely resistant bacteria. Additionally, genetic engineering can mend cells and halt the aging process.

Gene editing can also be used on non-human organisms, such as plants and crops. Editing crop genes can increase their resistance to harsh weather and decrease their water requirements. In addition, staple cereals can become more nutrient-dense and have high yields. For instance, recent varieties of genetically modified rice have added iron. These modifications would not only benefit farmers and consumers but also the environment. By making crops less dependent on water and more productive, the resources required to cultivate them are decreased. We could instead use that land and water to cultivate woods or preserves for wildlife. Resilient crops require fewer pesticides and fertilizers, which can pollute the environment.

Using gene editing, scientists can make better antibiotics but also stronger diseases. Using gene-editing technologies, nations may commence the development of bioweapons that are genetically modified. This is a very unlikely situation to consider despite the possibility of a weapons proliferation race. More likely are the suspicions that gene editing may have unforeseen negative consequences. For example, "off-target" effects could alter genes that were not intended to be altered. This could result in dangerous mutations, cancer, or even death. Likewise, there is a risk associated with consuming genetically modified foods, as they may also cause undesirable side effects.

There are also ethical problems with modifying the human genome, particularly in germ-line cells such as sperm and egg. Children will inherit from their parents any alterations made to these cells, and their children will inherit from them. In essence, it could wind up permanently altering human DNA. This is why countries like Germany prohibit all experimentation on germ-line cells. However, the U.S. and the U.K. have discussed permitting genetic modifications to heal hereditary disorders.

Also, gene editing can result in "designer babies." Parents might remove undesirable characteristics or add desirable ones, such as intelligence or height. They may also modify the baby's biological gender if they so desire. This scenario is morally comparable to eugenics. Some biologists fear that DNA editing could result in the creation of superhumans or subspecies.

Matic Academy and Gene Editing

Matic Academy is at the vanguard of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education for children. Its objective is to prepare youngsters for future employment. They intend to educate a generation of future leaders and scientists who will guide mankind and solve its issues. They offer a variety of services that pique children's interest in STEAM. Matic Academy provides an online platform that teaches coding and math to children in an entertaining manner. Children can learn to create games and films, which they can share with their peers.

Editing genes is one of the most significant developing technologies of the 21st century. To properly research it and negotiate its obstacles in the future, they must teach STEAM to children today.

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