Topics Covered: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology.
Feluda and Crispr technology
What to study?
For Prelims: All about CRISPR technology and how it works?
For Mains: Recent developments, significance of the technology, concerns associated and ethical concerns associated.
What is Feluda?
- It is a low-cost, paper-strip test which can detect the new coronavirus within an hour.
- Developed by Scientists at the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research — Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB).
- It is expected to cost around Rs 500 against the RT-PCR test that costs Rs 4,500 in private labs.
- The test is based on a bacterial immune system protein called Cas9.
- It uses cutting-edge gene-editing tool Crispr-Cas9 system.
What are Genes and what is gene- editing?
Genes contain the bio-information that defines any individual. Physical attributes like height, skin or hair colour, more subtle features and even behavioural traits can be attributed to information encoded in the genetic material.
An ability to alter this information gives scientists the power to control some of these features.
What is CRISPR-Cas9?
CRISPR technology is basically a gene-editing technology that can be used for the purpose of altering genetic expression or changing the genome of an organism. The technology can be used for targeting specific stretches of an entire genetic code or editing the DNA at particular locations.
CRISPR technology is a simple yet powerful tool for editing genomes. It allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function. Its many potential applications include correcting genetic defects, treating and preventing the spread of diseases and improving crops. However, its promise also raises ethical concerns.
How it works?
- 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 auto-repair process, supplying the desired sequence of genetic codes that binds itself with the broken DNA strand.
Concerns and issues involved:
- Tampering with the genetic code in human beings is more contentious. Leading scientists in the field have for long been calling for a “global pause” on clinical applications of the technology in human beings, until internationally accepted protocols are developed.
- Studies highlighted that CRISPR-Cas9-edited cells might trigger cancer.
- May increase the risk of mutations elsewhere in the genome in those cells.
- Many things are not clear like how we should determine which disease or traits are appropriate for gene editing.
- Ethical concerns:In addition, there are concerns with manipulating human embryos for own interest.
- What are genes?
- How are genes edited?
- What is Crispr technology?
- Difference between DNA and RNA.