Monday, November 23, 2015

Chinese Scientists Utilize CRISPR- Cas9 on a Variety of Animals

Scientists in China are utilizing a new gene altering technique CRISPR-Cas9 to genetically modify organisms.  This technique uses enzymes to locate and snip out segments of DNA to isolate or inhibit a trait.  According to Scientific America, this DNA editing technique is much cheaper, faster, and more successful than other DNA editing techniques. There is a wide- application for this technique ranging from genetically altering animals for consumption, designing pets that have desirable traits to the owner, altering animals for scientific research to name a few.   One way this new gene editing technique is being used is to selectivity delete the genes that suppress hair and muscle growth in Shaanbei cashmere goats.  These goats are breed for their wool for textiles and meat as a source of food.  The impact of this new and successful DNA editing tool extends outside of the world of agriculture and has application in biomedical research.  A different group of Chinese scientists are implementing the use of CRISPR to engineer monkeys that posses neurological diseases, then using those models to study the effects of various neurological diseases.

This is an amazing accomplishment for the international scientific community, increasing the reliability and speed with which genes and DNA can be selected and edited.  This accomplishment is also sparking ethical debate when it comes to using CRISPR in human research and the treatment of genetic diseases.  In a related article, Chinese scientists were the first in the world to attempt to modify a nonviable human embryo using CRISPR.     

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