By Meghana Puram
DNA is unique to every human being. DNA is what enables us to represent the way we are by inheriting traits from our parents. However, during the replication and copying of parts of DNA segments from our parents, errors can occur such as a misplacement of a specific nucleotide that can cause severe diseases for a human being. A gene codes for a specific function, but if its structure is altered it can exhibit various genotypes and phenotypes that can cause a person to receive a certain type of disease.
This is where CRISPR technology comes into play. CRISPR was discovered by Jennifer Doudna, a biochemist from UC Berkeley. CRISPR is used to edit genomes in order to alter DNA sequences and modify specific gene functions. The development of this unique technology is very helpful towards correcting genetic defects, treating and preventing the spread of diseases. To get into the basic facts, CRISPR is used by an enzyme called protein Cas9. This enzyme is capable of cutting multiple DNA strands and placing new nucleotides.
This new technology was adapted from the defense mechanisms of bacteria and archaea. These organisms use CRISPR by destroying the DNA of a foreign invader. These types of components are transferred into complex organisms which allows for the manipulation of genes, which is also known as “gene editing.”
CRISPR has enabled a simple and affordable way to manipulate and edit DNA by combining the concepts of biology and math to create the new era of genome engineering. By using genome engineering, researchers are trying to find new methods and possible cures for various diseases such as blindness, cancer, and Alzhimer’s disease. Multiple repeated sequences of nucleotides are distributed throughout a CRISPR region.
CRISPR has impacted many sectors of science ranging from agriculture to human health. Through agriculture, CRISPR has helped in the designing process of many new grains, roots, and fruits. In human health, it is developing new treatments for rare metabolic disorders and genetic diseases such as hemophilia and Huntington’s disease. The application of CRISPR is used to delete, insert, and modify DNA in human and other animal cells by forming cultures in petri dishes.