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If genetic engineering was not crazy enough for your reality, a recent breakthrough in CRISPR technology has paved the way for processing entire gene networks in a single step. This discovery is likely to shorten the time it takes to find remedies for deadly diseases, but may also bring us closer to the threats of bioterrorism.
ETH Zurich scientists have recently published a new CRISPR technique in Nature Methods, which eliminates one of the most significant limitations of the technology. Prior to this discovery, the process could only target a single gene for processing. The ETH scientists have now managed to hit 25 at one time and believe that this method could theoretically hit hundreds. This is how they describe the process:
[W] e show that both Cas12a and a clustered Regular Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat (CRISPR) array can be encoded in a single transcript by adding a stabilizing tertiary RNA structure. Using this system, we demonstrate constitutive, conditional, inducible, orthogonal, and multiplexed genome engineering of endogenous targets using up to 25 individual CRISPR RNAs delivered on a single plasmid. Our method provides a powerful platform to study and coordinate the complex genetic programs that underlie the behavior of complex cells.
While the method only increases the efficiency of CRISPR, time plays an important role in genetic engineering. Complex genetic conditions arise through the interaction of genes in a cell. It takes a long time to target each gene individually to a different configuration, and this process may require significant repetitions to discover the desired genetic variation. By reducing the time required to create each variant, the recognition process becomes significantly more efficient. This can lead to the finding of important gene therapies that can cure pathological conditions with daily deaths. With antibiotic resistance increasing, many expect CRISPR to be a viable alternative to a problem the Center for Disease Control (CDC) calls "one of the most pressing threats to public health."
Number of dangers and they go over tragic mistakes in human examinations. Currently you can buy a DIY CRISPR kit for $ 165. For the cost of Apple's new Mac Pro package, 72 people could learn genetic editing at home. This is wonderful and amazing until a set arrives at someone's home who is ready to commit and act on mass violence. While buying an assault rifle is much easier in the US than learning CRISPR – as an Engadget author proves – only one person has to decide whether they want to trade their AR-15 for a biotech weapon that could be the number increase the death toll of more than four people to millions.
On the positive side, we still have time. Some believe that CRISPR will serve as a shield against bioterrorism threats that are easier to create with older gene hacking techniques of a simpler time. Millions have been invested to make CRISPR a secure technology that does not lead to a health epidemic for the first time. With such actions, progress in the time frame for genetic engineering may look good.
There is currently no need to panic or celebrate because CRISPR technology has not matured overnight. Still, we should not waste time getting ready. Everything we make is a double-edged sword, and we have to be prepared in every direction it swings. Fortunately, for just 0.5 percent of the cost of this Mac Pro package, you can acquire the resources to learn the science that can help prevent an epidemic.