Is CRISPR Gene Editing Doing More Harm Than Good

CRISPR-Modified Babies Cursed With Short LifespanAntidote to Deadly Box Jellyfish Venom Discovered CRISPR/Cas9 is poised to become the gene-editing tool of the future.But, according to a new study, you may want to think twice before rewriting your DNA.Scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute found that the system can cause greater damage in cells than previously thought.During an investigation using mouse and human cells, the team discovered that CRISPR/Cas9 frequently caused extensive mutations like DNA deletions and insertions.What’s worse: Some of these changes were too far from the target site to spot, allowing them to covertly fester and grow without proper supervision.“This is the first systematic assessment of unexpected events resulting from CRISPR/Cas9 editing in therapeutically relevant cells,” corresponding author Allan Bradley, a professor at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said in a statement. “And we found that changes in the DNA have been seriously underestimated before now.”The genetic superweapon, heralded for its advancements in curing disease, has previously been accused of also causing it.Two studies published last month warn that cells altered by CRISPR/Cas9 can trigger cancer.According to research by Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and the Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research, cells whose genomes have been CRISPR’d are more likely to grow into tumors.But, as with most panic-inducing medical developments, these potentially cancerous effects should be taken with a grain of salt. The findings simply highlight a need for more analysis of this promising tool; they shouldn’t spell its doom.“It is important that anyone thinking of using this technology for gene therapy proceeds with caution,” Bradley said. “And looks very carefully to check for possible harmful effects.”CRISPR/Cas9 is already used in scientific research, to alter sections of DNA by cutting and editing specific points. Still the new kid on the block, it has shown promise in creating potential treatments for the likes of HIV, cancer, ALS, and autism.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Stay on target

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