Gene-editing in embryos

Why in News?

  • A new study published in the journal Nature Communications has warned of the potential consequences of gene editing technology, which is still not fully understood.

What are the Key findings?

  • Using Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) to delete harmful disease-causing mutations could create more problems
  • CRISPR could lead to extensive gene copying from one parent to another, potentially increasing the risk of diseases
  • The extent of the DNA damage induced by CRISPR and how cells respond to it is still not fully known
  • The technology used to test gene-edited embryos could reduce the accuracy of genetic testing, leading to the misdiagnosis of embryos.
  • The researchers concluded that such limitations must be addressed before gene editing technology can be used.
  • Previously, a Chinese scientist who announced the birth of gene-edited twins in 2018, had used CRISPR to make the embryos resistant to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

About Gene-editing:

  • Genome editing (also called gene editing) is a group of technologies that allow genetic material to be added, removed, or altered at particular locations in the genome.
  • Three technology mostly used for gene-editing are CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9), transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs), and zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs).

What is the Difference between Genome and Gene?

What is Genome?

  • A genome refers to all of the genetic material in an organism, and the human genome is mostly the same in all people, but a very small part of the DNA does vary between one individual and another.
  • Every organism’s genetic code is contained in its DNA, the building blocks of life.
  • The discovery that DNA is structured as a “double helix” by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953, started the quest for understanding how genes dictate life, its traits, and what causes diseases.
  • Each genome contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism.
  • In humans, a copy of the entire genome contains more than 3 billion DNA base pairs.
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