Interest in gene editing technology has been increasing rapidly since the discovery of CRISPR / Cas9. A protein that is found naturally in bacteria to protect themselves from the viruses that infect them.
One of the main disadvantages that appear after using CRISPR for gene editing is that the accuracy of the system is not perfect: sometimes it cuts a similar but incorrect gene. According to some estimates, he makes a mistake 1 percent of the time.
As indicated by Dr. Bassil Hubbard: "An erroneous cut within the DNA chain of a patient could end with a greater predisposition to a serious disease, such as cancer."
The scientists of the University of Washintong define 4 basic arguments within the edition of genes that can result from the CRISPR / Cas9 technology:
- Cure diseases
By eliminating the genes that cause disease, doctors could treat a wide variety of conditions, from heart disease to Alzheimer's.
There are many scientific challenges, such as making sure to change the correct gene. As we mentioned earlier, there is a 1% chance of making an error on each occasion.
- Stop the transmission of hereditary diseases
Someday, family-transmitted diseases, such as Huntington and Tay-Sachs, may disappear from family trees.
Although we can already do tests to detect some genetic diseases and avoid them by in vitro fertilization, the new CRISPR methods offer the potential to make more complex editions.
- Save species in danger of extinction
The same technology used to edit human genes can be used with animals. This would allow protecting a species to avoid or postpone its decline.
- Resuscitate extinct species
The genetic edition could even serve to recover extinct species, or at least parts of them; for example, mixing genes of the extinct species with those of an existing species. A group called The Long Now Foundation supports these scientific efforts, and hopes to be the first to recover the passenger pigeon and then the woolly mammoth.
The "de-extinction" could also resuscitate features lost because of commercial reproduction, such as the wonderful natural flavor of tomatoes, according to a letter published on December 2 by bioethicists R. Alta Charo, University of Wisconsin-Madison , and Henry Greely, of Stanford.
However, geneticist Jennifer Doudna explains through TED, that despite all the benefits and innovations that stem from the CRISPR / Cas9 gene editing technology, you should also have potential care, as it is at the hands of any laboratory and there may be cases in which scientists combine or create new species on a whim or create modifications in genes that could be irreversible.