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10 years of CRISPR Gene editing

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Science and Technology- Biotech


Source: Time


10 years back in 2012, Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier published their finding that CRISPR-Cas9 could be programmed with RNA to edit genomic DNA, now considered one of the most significant discoveries in the history of biology.

  • CRISPR-Cas9: Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats Associated protein 9
  • CRISPR gene editingis a genetic engineering technique by which the genomes of living organisms may be modified.
    • It is based on a simplified version of the bacterial CRISPR-Cas9 antiviral defence system. By delivering the Cas9 enzyme with a synthetic guide RNA (gRNA) into a cell, the cell’s genome can be cut at the desired location. (see diagram)

A genome is the complete set of genetic information in an organism. The genome is stored in long molecules of DNA called chromosomes.


Current Affairs


Current Affairs


Current Affairs 


Other Genome editing systems include TALENs, Zinc-Finger Nucleases etc.


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What is CRISPR-Cas9?


Practice Questions:

Q. Discuss the CRISPR gene-editing technology and the concerns raised by it. (250 words)


Q. What is the Cas9 protein that is often mentioned in news? (UPSC 2019)

(a) A molecular scissors used in targeted gene editing

(b) A biosensor used in the accurate detection of pathogens in patients

(c) A gene that makes plants pest-resistant

(d) A herbicidal substance synthesized in genetically modified crops

Answer: A


Q. With reference to agriculture in India, how can the technique of ‘genome sequencing’, often seen in the news, be used in the immediate future? (UPSC 2017)

  1. Genome sequencing can be used to identify genetic markers for disease resistance and drought tolerance in various crop plants.
  2. This technique helps in reducing the time required to develop new varieties of crop plants.
  3. It can be used to decipher the host-pathogen relationships in crops

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: D

Genome sequencing is a laboratory method that is used to determine the entire genetic makeup of a specific organism or cell type. This method can be used to find changes in areas of the genome. These changes may help scientists understand how specific diseases (such as cancer) form as well as modify the genetic makeup of crops as per our needs.