The Pros And Cons Of Gene-Editing In Biology

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According to the World Health Organization, genetic disorders affect one in every twenty-five children born worldwide. We humans, along with all other known organisms, possess genes in our cells that determine everything about how we look and function. Occasionally, an organism may inherit a faulty gene, causing it to have one or several detrimental characteristics known as genetic disorders. This may also occur due to environmental factors that the organism is exposed to, such as ultraviolet radiation, which damage its genes and cause alterations in them when they repair. The recent discovery of CRISPR-Cas9, or simply CRISPR, a defense system against viruses in bacteria, has presented the possibility of gene-editing in a way that is faster,…show more content…
Firstly, CRISPR has been tested and proven to work on all types of cells, including those of plants, animals and microorganisms. Therefore, it can be used to alter the genes of other organisms as well as ours, giving them characteristics useful for us. For example, cow DNA could be edited for them to produce more milk, increasing the efficiency of the dairy industry. Secondly, CRISPR is much cheaper than alternative forms of genetic engineering. According to Gene Therapy Net, the components to produce and test a CRISPR-Cas9 system can cost as little as thirty dollars. All these components can be easily purchased off-shelf. In contrast, gene editing tools such as zinc finger nucleases cost approximately five thousand dollars, and their use require professional laboratory equipment, making it even more expensive. Thirdly, CRISPR works incredibly quickly. Thermo Fisher Scientific states that Cas9 takes at most three days to identify and cut the target DNA. In other gene editing techniques, such as TALENS, custom proteins need to be produced by scientists for each different segment of DNA targeted. This can take weeks, if not months, to design and produce. Requiring great knowledge and skill, it can also be done wrong and require starting…show more content…
One of these is that CRISPR is not always accurate in the DNA it cuts. As reported by Dr. J. Keith Joung of Massachusetts General Hospital, CRISPR has a one percent probability of making a mistake, which is worrying if it is to be used on humans. The RNA that guides Cas9 in CRISPR is made up of twenty genes with which the DNA must match for it to be cut. Nevertheless, in some studies, other DNA segments where most, but not all, the genes match, were cut by the Cas9 molecule. This causes unwanted, and most likely harmful, alterations to the characteristics of the organism. Depending on the vitalness of the genes removed, this could even be mortal. Secondly, though DNA changes can easily be made to individual cells in a laboratory, for a change to be expressed in an organism, it must be made to all cells in that organism. This can be tackled by using a virus containing a programmed Cas9 molecule. The virus will introduce Cas9 into the cells it infects. However, the effects that using a virus may provoke are yet unknown. Another way to overcome this obstacle is by using CRISPR on gametes. These will pass on the corrected DNA on to every cell in the organism that is formed upon fertilization. However, its use on embryos generates huge controversy because it could go wrong, killing the embryo or having permanent harmful effects on the life of the organism that develops. Moreover, it is considered by many dangerous or unethical to

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