Sunday, September 24, 2017

America's Scientists Working to Make DNA a Little CRISPR

In the movie Splice (circa my awkward tween years), it opens up with two scientists.  One scientist is seen taking blood from her own body to transfer to an artificial embryo in hopes of birthing the first ever artificially created human.  This movie is only marginally related to this article but I like to talk about it sometimes to keep it alive. On Thursday, July 20, The New York Times had reported that officials at the Oregon Health & Science University confirmed that they had completed and were planning on publishing a journal with the results of an experiment they were conducting that involved curing inherited mutations of genes in vitro.  This experiment is supposedly the first of its kind in America, although China had previously reported on similar experiments but stopped because they felt that technology at their time of research was too immature.  This method of preventing inherited diseases uses the CRISPR technique which allows specific sequences of DNA to be altered or replaced using a programmed CRISPR enzyme complex.  This technique uses molecular scissors to cut and paste DNA and is much more precise than some types of gene therapy that cannot ensure that the mutated DNA will be changed exactly the way it was supposed to.  In addition to a higher level of precision, the CRISPR method guarantees that the DNA changes will be passed down through generations, ultimately ridding the family of the inherited disease.  Given this power to control the genetic makeup of a developing embryo brings up many controversial arguments on how this technique can be manipulated.  Most scientists are for this technique, arguing that parents wouldn't go through the long and expensive process of putting their embryo through this procedure just to ensure that their children will have desired qualities that are not health related.  However, other people argue that this procedure can and will be manipulated to create "designer babies." Of course, the scientists got it under control and will have strict regulations on the procedure so that it will not be manipulated for unethical reasons.  If all else fails, the scientists that are for this advancement in genetics has brought up the strong and unarguable point of "well, everyone else is doing it so yolo lmao (this quote was loosely translated from the quotes obtained by The New York Times." This idea is similar to the main character from the movie Splice who also decided to "yolo" it but saw the horrible consequences of her yoloing that Drake had not foreseen.  All jokes and Drakes aside, these scientists seem to be heading in the right direction with their research using the CRISPR technique and the FDA seem to have a good handle on making sure that this procedure will not be manipulated in any way, shape, or form.

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