Scientists tried CRISPR to fight HIV

4 min read

News:According to a study,Scientists in China have used CRISPR gene-editing technology to treat a patient with HIV,but it didn’t cure the patient.

Facts:

About Gene Editing

  • Genome editing is the deliberate alteration of a selected DNA sequence in a living cell. It involves editing an organism’s DNA by altering, removing or adding nucleotides to the genome.

About CRISPR?

  • Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) is a gene editing technology, which replicates natural defence mechanism in bacteria to fight virus attacks, using a special protein called Cas9.

Working of CRISPR

  • CRISPR-Cas9 technology behaves like a cut-and-paste mechanism on DNA strands that contain genetic information.
  • The specific location of the genetic codes that need to be changed, or “edited”, is identified on the DNA strand and then using the Cas9 protein, which acts like a pair of scissors,that location is cut off from the strand. A DNA strand,when broken has a natural tendency to repair itself.
  • Scientists intervene during this an auto-repair process,supplying the desired sequence of genetic codes that binds itself with the broken DNA strand.


Concerns 

  • Commercial aspect– Gene editing might be used as a tool to make designer babies by selecting desired traits like intelligence, muscularity, eye color, height, memory etc which will create demographic disparity.
  • Creation of a superior race- The gene editing can be misused by regimes e.g., soviets tried to procreate a human gorilla which will be the ultimate fighting warrior
  • Tweaking with nature– Ethicists believe that reproduction is a marvel of nature and it should not be tweaked with.
  • Safety Concerns: Studies have shown that edited cells can lack a cancer suppressing protein.

Additional information:

About HIV/AIDS:

  • HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus.It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), if not treated.There are two main types of the virus: HIV-1 and HIV-2.
  • At present there is no effective cure for HIV, but HIV can be controlled. The medicine used to treat HIV is called antiretroviral therapy or ART.
  • According to estimates by WHO and United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), 36.7 million people were living with HIV globally at the end of 2016.