Monday, October 14, 2019

The New & Improved CRISPR-BEST

A study published in PNAS, exposed the fact that scientists have developed a genome editing tool for actinomycetes. This new piece of technology is called CRISPR-BEST, it’s an upgraded version of CRISPR essentially and resolves the common problem that scientists had when working with CRISPR, the creation of instability caused by DNA double stranded breaks. Ultimately meaning that this tool creates mutations in actinomycetes without having a DNA double stranded break all together. These double stranded breaks created genetic instability and that essentially forced bacteria to rearrange or delete sections of their chromosomes. This often led to new antibiotics and bioactive compounds. This entire idea of creating a tool that avoids the double stranded break in its entirety came from a group of researchers who were interested in using CRISPR to deactivated a specific gene in hopes of producing new variants of the antibiotic kirromycin. Unfortunately, when attempting to inactivate this gene, they lost more than 1.3 million base pairs of the chromosome. This essentially created the idea of eliminating the aspect of cleaving the chromosome to avoid deletions, while remaining efficient in editing. Resulting from this creation, it has improved the risk of losing information; however, scientists are still researching how to improve the editing efficiency and how to create a tool that can perform multiple genome edits at the same time. Overall, I find it to be difficult to wrap your head around being able to edit a genome without having to pry it open; however, I feel as if it is a big concern to constantly be losing millions of base pairs at a time and it was in fact a necessary fix in hopes of eliminating the risk of creating new viruses on accident. All in all, I found this super interesting and considering this is such a new finding I wonder where it will lead to due to the fact that it's such a crucial fix when working as a geneticist. Losing an overabundance of information makes it difficult to analyze specific outcomes and draw conclusions from those observations: it almost hinders the credibility of work in my opinion when there is such a wide range of equipment error. This is kind of intimidating to me because I constantly fear how much technology is going to take away from society. People tend to avoid the fact that there are downfalls to technology increasing as well. In a general statement, jobs can be lost sometimes, and individuality could be lost sometimes as well. This advancement is scary to me because it enables scientists to utilize this tool more and I fear that this power could become abused very easily.

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