Genetics

5 facts and Myths about CRISPR

CRISPR Facts and Myths

Since the past few years, the term “CRISPR” is constantly creating buzz among various scientific and non-scientific communities. It is the accurate, efficient, and cheapest gene-editing tool that allows scientist to modify the genome of almost all organism.

Currently, CRISPR is the hottest scientific breakthrough. Also, it is considered as the Taylor Swift of science. Moreover, it starts making waves and goes viral into the public spares after it was featured at popular HBO show.

Even though CRISPR is being used for different purposes, i.e. to cure cancer and AIDs. But still if it’s used in humans is left unchecked, it can create chaos. Recently due to claims of He Jiankui, a Chinese scientist, of creating a genetically edited baby via CRISPR. The claim has made the scientific community began to question CRISPR more.

Today, I am going to tell you about the facts regarding CRISPR and what are myths associated with it. Debunking myths around CRISPR in the light of facts concerning it.

Biological Warfare Uses CRISPR

  • MYTH

    This one fears the worst, especially those who are not involved in science. As CRISPR is the best gene-editing tool that chances are it will be used or that it is already being used in biological warfare.

  • FACT

    There is no reported incident or case regarding CRISPR being used in biological warfare. There are several reasons for bioterrorist not exploiting CRISPR technology. First, CRISPR is not yet fully developed. There are still some problems associated with it such as off-target mutations. On which work is being done but still CRISPR is not perfect yet. Secondly, CRISPR maybe easy to use, but it is not easy to design. For this, special skills are needed, and not everyone can have those skills. Also, members of biological weapon convention, under United Nations, prohibited the use, stocking, and making of biological weapons.

Parents will have CRISPR edited babies

  • MYTH

    Parents will soon have CRISPR edited babies. They will design their babies enhancing certain desirable traits associated with beauty, looks, intelligence, athletic ability and more.

  • FACT

    Even though He Jiankui claimed that he had created CRISPR babies, but still designing CRISPR babies nothing more than just a science-fiction. Why? Because He Jiankui target only a single gene to make babies resistant to HIV. Meanwhile, a single gene does not control traits like intelligence, beauty, and athletic ability. Multiple genes control them, and there is a very complex interaction between these genes and traits. Also, between nature and environmental effects on genes and traits.These are not sufficiently studied, nor they understood due to such complexity. Now, it is almost impossible to create or design a baby while targeting multiple genes without deadly consequences. Even targeting a single gene is not as simple as a single gene influence many other genes, which we do not know yet.

Explore More: What Chinese CRISPR Babies mean for the Scientific World?

CRISPR is 100% accurate

  • MYTH

    CRISPR is 100% accurate, and it can target any sequence very accurately. Also, it can either delete a gene or add a new gene without any error.

  • FACT

    CRISPR is not 100% accurate. There are high chances that it could cause unintended mutations in the DNA. Even though research has been carried out to reduce off-target mutations. However, still, off-target effects are the main reason for CRISPR not yet fully developed.

CRISPR will be soon used to edit viable embryos for genetic diseases

  • MYTH

    Viable embryos are the early stage embryos after in-vitro fertilization which are let to live and are not discarded. CRISPR will be soon used to edit genetic diseases in viable embryos.

  • FACT

    For curing genetic diseases, CRISPR is currently used only on cell lines and in animal models. As we are not sure how accurate CRISPR can be. Also, what will be the effects after we either delete a gene or insert a gene.Moreover, what if we instead of curing someone, make it worse. What if we are unable to pinpoint the exact gene responsible for a particular condition that we want to cure.Therefore, CRISPR is not used currently for genetic diseases in humans.

CRISPR will solve all the problems in our world, related to science

  • MYTH

    Since its discovery and its first used in labs, it is suggested that CRISPR is the solution for problems related to living things, like food shortage, fuel consumption, global warming, diseases and more.

  • FACT

    In fact, this is not true. CRISPR is not the answer to our every problem. Even though CRISPR is a novel gene editing tool and has potential. But saying that CRISPR will be used to solve every problem we face is nothing more than just false hope. Because for CRISPR it needs several years just for us to correctly understand its mechanism and how to reduce errors to a save level.

Explore More: Scientists find new and smaller CRISPR gene editor: CasX

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