Essay Example on Genome editing enables DNA









Introduction Genome editing enables DNA of a living organism to be replaced inserted or deleted via a process of gene engineering Ledford H 2015 It is a group of technologies that enables DNA to be altered by inserting or deleting a particular component of the genome Molteni M 2017 The outcome of genome editing is that an organism's genome can change by introducing a new function or altering a mutation in the gene Genome editing technology has been researched since the late 1970 s and the technology has facilitated research organizations and drug discovery companies in finding optimised solutions for treating diseases Molecular biologists have been researching cellular repair processes to modify genetic material through genome editing There are a few gene editing methods such as CRISPR Cas9 ZFNs and TALENs For the sake of this essay we will be focussing on the CRISPR Cas9 method The CRISPR technology allows geneticists to alter DNA sequences and adjust gene functions Vidyasagar A 2017 Since 2015 CRISPR technology has been the preferred approach for gene editing as it has great accuracy is a relatively simple method and compared to other techniques is more efficient and has lower costs Comley J 2016 Due to these factors the CRISPR technology is attractive for molecular biologists in the lab Applications such as improving genetic defects and preventing the spread of diseases are potential benefits of the new gene editing technology In special regards to pharmaceutics in medicine technological developments as CRISPR allow diseases such as leukaemia and AIDS to be cured The scientific advancement of CRISPR technology also allows geneticists to alter human embryos by means of attempting to fix disease caused mutations in the hope of preventing genetic disorders Wilgar H 2017 The ongoing debate into genome editing in human embryos deals with the question to what extent gene modification can be justified 

Therefore this debate will be exploring the question Do ethical implications need to be taken into consideration in genome editing through CRISPR Cas9 technology and if so why This question is based on the case study of American biologist Shoukhrat Mitalipov who runs the organic health centre in Portland Ledford H August 2017 Encouraging the advanced view on this debate the Science and Technology studies STS perspective will be the standpoint of this essay Moreover the case study of Shoukhrat Mitalipov will primarily be introduced then approached from an STS perspective where two contrasting standpoints are analysed Finally the debate is concluded by stating the overall conclusion upon the CRISPR technology and specifically the case study of Shoukhrat Mitalipov CRISPR Technology CRISPR is an abbreviation of clustered regularly interspaced show palindromic repeats Zhang F 2017 It is a powerful molecular tool which helps rewrite the code of life The CRISPR technology uses an enzyme which cuts the genome at a specific location on the gene Wilgar H 2017 This enzyme is called engineered nuclease Once the specific genome of DNA is cut the cell will naturally reconstruct the cut in the gene Using the CRISPR technology the cell is tricked as it is possible to insert a modified piece called guide RNA into the cell before the repair system of the cell is initiated Khan N T After the cutting of the DNA strand the organism s cell notices the damaged DNA and tries to repair it Through this reparation process the DNA is mutated and enhanced with the preferred pre designed gene Graham D 2015 By replacing this DNA with a favoured form a point mutation is corrected in the gene therefore replacing a troublesome chunk of genetic code for a new gene Graham D 2015 The case of American biologist Shoukhrat Mitalipov research regarding altering disease causing mutations in human embryos has caused an ongoing debate about the CRISPR technology in genome editing His research led to editing dozens of applicable embryos and adequately altering a gene mutation which causes a condition affecting the heart called Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy Ledford H 2017 August 

2 This condition could lead to sudden death and is therefore a threat to our health Mitalipov developed the chosen embryos for a few days however did not implant them into an organism Embryos cannot develop into an organism without implantation and therefore the results were only tested in the lab rather than in human beings Potenza A 2017 Achieving this mutation free embryo scientists fertilized eggs with a sperm cell which carried the mutation causing the heart condition By using the CRISPR tool to cut out the mutated sequence of the male s sperm the gene copied the healthy string from the female gene This indicates how embryos are capable of repairing themselves rather than scientists injecting a synthetic repair template Moreover scientists found that the technique for editing the gene worked best when the egg was injected with the sperm and CRISPR at the same time Potenza A 2017 Mitalipov tested 58 edited embryos where the outcome was that 42 had two mutation free copies of the gene in each cell whilst 16 had unwanted mutations after the CRISPR tool was applied Ledford H 2017 August 2 Therefore the technique is far from perfect but research indicated that the prospect of engineering disease free humans is a possibility in the future using embryos and the CRISPR tool Shoukhrat Mitalipov is one of the many examples regarding the debate of the CRISPR technique as he changes the human genome by altering heart disease mutations however his study questions the ethical uses of the CRISPR The topic of human enhancement can be discussed through means of an STS perspective This point of view encourages to rethink the connection of technology and humans The following part will determine how our scientific and technological knowledge can influence our interpretation of STS

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