While we are traveling along the timeline of life, we begin to notice how we may fit into society's structure. Understanding, however, doesn't always come from such a realization. Sometimes, our place in the cosmos gets propelled due to realizing how things do NOT fit into this life.
Hello again everyone, my name on Hive is Scholaris.
Welcome fellow Hivians to this post on Genetic Engineering. We'll touch on some basics of genetics and give an overview of the CRISPR-CAS9 process.
There are things about me that hinder my performance. There are also things about me that put me above others. I am thankful for what I feel are advantages in my life because it helps me be, what I believe, to be a good husband, father, and son.
However, I wonder how life would be if my faults could be corrected on a whim or, perhaps, during a trip to a doctor.
What is DNA?
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the building block of our lives. Like the electrons, protons, and neutrons of an element, DNA can be further broken down into separate parts, but for this discussion, we'll limit the description of DNA.
DNA is a double-stranded helical structure consisting of a "phosphate group, a sugar group, and one of four nitrogen bases". DNA is found packed into one of twenty-three chromosomes located within the nucleus of a cell. Our cells utilize DNA to produce proteins made up of different combinations of twenty amino acids.
The proteins produced aids in the performance of all bodily functions. Different proteins perform different functions from acting as an antibody to performing storage of molecules as needed by the body.
All these proteins, amazingly, are coded by the DNA within our cells. The derived intent of this information leads me to believe that these processes are meant to develop and maintain the human body.
Born of Entwined Bodies
I had little need for emotion or attachment during my youth. It wasn't until I met the woman of my dreams that I wondered if there was something more to life in the realm of personal relationships. And from our union came our first-born son. I knew beauty for the second time in my life. A third time was yet to follow.
Wonders and worries, unfortunately, plagued my thoughts. How can I support my family through life? What further actions must I take to ensure our survival during times of tribulation? During these thoughts, I couldn't help but wonder about the no-win scenarios. What if something happened to this child that was beyond my control? I could not have been the only person on this Earth with similar feelings.
I was not wrong.
Against the Dying of the Light
Similarities exist between professors, parents, scientists, and skeptics. What's similar is a need to understand. The difference between them is the amount of passion behind that need. Of course, one person could meet multiple categories. Regardless of what role someone fills, when that need to know arises, science may hold a glimmer of hope to meet that need or to crush the hope entirely.
It's what science does. It seeks to remove the lack of understanding of a thing to provide clarity or correct a problem. There is, however, a bit of controversy when involving genetic engineering. In today's age, we can remove a faulty gene and insert a corrected one. Alone, that very concept is miraculous. In the grand scheme of things, it solves very few problems.
Many medical issues exist today as a result of faulty genes that can't be easily corrected. Parents and the afflicted are left to wonder if their salvation will come or if the end is nearer than they expected. One particular means of genetic engineering exists to target, at a molecular level, abnormal genes that contribute to or cause diseases.
CRISPR, also known as "Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats," is an editing technique developed from observing bacteria. Scientists utilize this process to target DNA sequences, remove them, and then replace the abnormal gene with an edited copy.
A summary of the CRISPR-CAS9 process is contained in the video below.
CRISPR Video Summary
Selective gene editing brought forth by the CRISPR-CAS9 process revealed options the scientific community did not know was possible. With CRISPR, science has been able to cure certain forms of blindness, treat sickle cell disease, and even cure cystic fibrosis in human stem cells. What's more, further development of this process ensures a more accurate, timely, and simplified process to cure those diseases once thought impossible to treat.
Like anything else newly developed, CRISPR has its own share of limitations. For instance, CRISPR is limited in treatment application. Cells that absorb the modified CRISPR genes don't always absorb them or even have the CRISPR process activated.
Another limitation is the difficulty in delivering CRISPR treatments to a large number of cells simultaneously.
Humanity aims to improve without delay. While today's CRISPR techniques are limited by the number of cells they can target, efforts are underway to extend that capability to cells within a large area.
Doctors working on CRISPR techniques to reverse a certain type of blindness are close to a means by which they can affect the retina entirely.
The CRISPR process will also become much more specific. Currently, CRISPR techniques in use affect DNA by a specific sequence; future versions will be able to change "one DNA letter into another" by this new treatment.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Humanity has the knowledge, drive, and wisdom to grant us a healthy and long life. We should not ask if we have the right to correct something that is naturally wrong. Instead, we can see, speak, and interact with anyone suffering from an abnormality that can be corrected with the developing processes. The only permission we need to obtain is from the person that rages against the dying of their light.
Posted with STEMGeeks