The rare scientific term comes from a document or show magazines for bars and family dinners. However, CRISPR, despite the fact that it follows the amount of consonants, has reached it. And it's not less, it's an instrument that opens the door for genetic editing, which fascinates us very much and stunts almost equally.
The name is an acronym for clustered regular interterorous short palindromic repeats (in Spanish, grouped by a temporary and regular spread of palindrome repeats) and refers to the DNA region of prokaryotes (bacteria and arches), which is repeated many times very distinctly and comes from bacteria, viruses or invasive genetic material who has infected his ancestor and is kept in memory to fight it, "explains Francisco Mojica, a microbiologist at the University of Alicante (Spain), one of the creatures' parents, and the Baptist of that name. "To destroy it, they use some proteins, some scissors that are guided by the previous information their predecessors have charged to the DNA region of the occupying virus, and they cut it." This is the basis for the revolutionary technique that researchers Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna developed in 2012 to edit any living entity DNA.
While more social discussions have recently been held on this technique, as a Chinese scientist, Dr. Jianquui, has proven (to date, no evidence) that he has used it to create the first genetically modified infants who are immunized against HIV viruses, pancakes and cholera . The scientific community, including its founder, has unanimously rejected the genetic manipulation of human embryos. But the street debate is being served.
Within a few years, Mojica is a favorite of the Nobel Prize, although he says that the winner of the award "would be more of a problem." So this scientist humbled himself in a conversation with N + 1, in which he patiently explains the meaning of this message and conducts an inquiry into CRISPR.
Question: If the birth of genetically modified Chinese girls is confirmed, what would be the consequences?
Answer: It has a huge impact on the social level. Since 2013, some scholars knew that this could be the case, therefore, attempts were made to reach a dialogue on genetic editing issues not only in science but also in society, for making decisions and adopting legislation to adapt them to the new times. And it seems that it has contributed significantly. It was said that "the wolf is coming, the wolf is coming" because it is already here: in principle, the state of any human being from whom we knew what its genetic factors could change, and we are talking, for example, about increasing memory
Q: Are there any negative effects on the health of these girls?
A: The author says no, but most expert geneticists say yes. Technology is not mature yet. This can lead to what is called mosaicism, that is, various modifications in different cells. One part of the body would be changed in one way or another. This individual mix would have a dramatic effect, as it is impossible to predict what will happen.
Some of these girls or both can cause problems like being more susceptible to influenza viruses or other effects that we do not know. According to previous animal experiments, and that one of the girls changed only one parent gene rather than one another, this could mean that they are still susceptible to infection with the AIDS virus. Probably nothing has been achieved.
What can happen now is that the fear that it has caused causes a rejection of research, something that I think should not happen: one is research and the other is the use of this study for the treatment of diseases. An application must be submitted if the study provides you with a minimum risk or benefit that is significantly greater than this risk.
Q: What type of investigation with this method is currently being performed?
A: Clinical trials to be performed as God sends, the rules are followed, informed about what has been achieved by obtaining all necessary permits and taking all necessary precautionary measures. For example, the study of how to fight cancer with immunotherapy is being studied. This involves the extraction and modification of blood cells, in particular D lymphocytes, so that when they are returned to the patient they can destroy tumor cells. It also serves other blood disorders such as hemophilia.
With regard to embryonic research, the causes for embryo rejection in and development of artificial fertilizers and the possibility of treating diseases such as hemophilia or hypertrophic heart disease are being explored. The immediate intention of this investigation is to know the consequences of these changes and their effectiveness, as well as to decide in the future if this could prevent genetic problems inherited from parents.
Q: What are the main problems of CRISPR?
A: An attack on a live cell DNA by cutting it with CRISPR activates this damage repair system because, if the cell is not repaired, it dies. This repair can be done in various ways, one of which is that there is a bar and it is broken and the connection with it is not perfect with the glue, but with the balance: the cell is trying to desperately correct and create random changes in the region where the reduction has taken place.
Another more complex mechanism is what is used to edit: additionally give a cell scissors and the roadmap is given a DNA fragment that corresponds to the area in which the slicing takes place but does not need to match 100% but adds additional information. Then cell repair using this mold information that was given to him, and thus the information about any genome region can be deliberately changed.
An alternative to this technique is to transform rather than the DNA containing the wrong information, but the RNA that transmits this information.
Q: What is an RNA modification? Are we talking about the future of CRISPR?
A: That's what they say, who knows what the topic is. There are no permanent modifications in the RNA cell. Although there is a DNS publication, in principle, it's enough to apply once in your life with RNA no. The transmitter has been modified to prevent bad news: you say, "RNA, even if the DNA has told you this, no, you have to say that."
This is a great edition because it does not require cutting or repairing DNA. Where is A in some place? [adenina, uno de los cuatro componentes del ADN junto a citocina, guanina y timina] and you do not like it A because it causes the disease and it is known that this is solved by replacing it with C (cytokine), this method can do this. Now it has already been used by animals to see if it can reduce the effects of certain diseases and have worked.
Q: Are we on our way to a the highest race of people?
A: We do not know where it will take place. History has already taught us that public opinion is changing radically and at times in a very short time. When genetic engineering appeared in the 1970s, in the so-called "recombinant DNA technology" said: "You can cut, paste, reorganize the genetic information of living beings, what kind of monstrosity!" And now it's something that is done daily in laboratories or when it was recommended to put a human DNA insulin into a bacterial insulin, it first made a rejection, and it looks so normal, and if it's not that there are a lot of people who would not be able to enjoy it anymore life or less healthy for a long period of time. There are other examples, such as artificial insemination.
This can be something like that. We are scared that people can be sent to the letter, but what, of course, very well accepted is to cure diseases. When using CRISPR as a therapeutic agent in an adult human being, I do not think that anyone is putting any negative results.
Q: You have said many times that you are not worried about the Nobel Prize. Does any (believed) effect in China take you away from recognition like this?
A: Well, I should worry if they give it to me (laughs). CRISPR allows you to do things that you could not dream about before, what could be done, there are so many doors that have made it possible to discover this knowledge about the functioning of the bacterial immune system that I understand it deserves.
Do not think that people who can do this misfortune like this researcher, they make merit. Progress has been made in life and health sciences in recent years, because I would not make any progress in fifty or one hundred years. The benefit is very high. I believe that CRISPR will accept the Nobel Prize no matter what they grant it. I do not know when, maybe, twenty years later. Although, if you do not take it, nothing happens, of course, there are other fields that deserve it, so what's the difference?
Beatriz de Vera
These messages were originally published in N + 1, in science that complements.
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