Ten Years of CRISPR

Ten Years of CRISPR

CRISPR Technology

Details on “CRISPR Technology

Relevance for Prelims: CRISPR Technology

Relevance for Mains: Working and Application of CRISPR Technology

Context: According to a research report, Gene-Editing Technology has nearly unlimited potential and has produced flawless results in clinical trials.

India has recently approved a five-year project to develop CRISPR to cure sickle-cell anemia in Tribal Population.


The CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Inter-Spaced Short Palindrome Repeats) Technology enables a simple way to edit the genetic codes of living organisms which helps in rectifying genetic errors which in turn can help cure diseases such as Sickle Cell-Anemia, Color Blindness, cancer, Diabetes, Heart Diseases.

CRISPR Technology

  Pic: CRISPR Technology

It does not involve the introduction of new genes from the outside which has been done for several decades, particularly in the field of agriculture. Example: Genetic Modified Crops such as BT Cotton in India.

Mechanism of CRISPR:

  1. The mechanism of CRISPR is often compared to the ‘’Cut-Copy-Paste” or “Find-replace” functionalities in computer programs. A bad stretch in DNA Sequence, which is the cause of disease or disorder, is identified and located, cut, and removed and then replaced with “correct or right sequence”.
  2. When genes that are causing disorder are located through RNA molecule programming to locate the sequence of broken DNA Strand. After it is being identified, a special protein called Cas9 (also known as genetic scissors) breaks DNA Strand and removes bad sequences.
  3. A broken DNA strand has a natural tendency to re-attach and heal itself. If this mechanism continues, bad sequence will continue to grow which will give further damage to the body.
  4. It replicates a natural defense mechanism in some bacteria and uses a similar method to protect itself from virus attacks.

Concerns Associated:

  1. Germline Modification: Deliberately changing the genes passed onto children and future generations-creating genetically modified children.
  2. Embryo Alteration: In 2018, A Chinese researcher used CRISPR to modify a particular gene in the embryo to make babies immune to HIV infection which created global concerns as editing embryos could create designer babies where new-born babies could have any features such as-fair skin, blue-green eyes, long or small nose.
  3. Developer of CRISPR (genome editing technology) , Jeniffer A. Doudna has warned that the technology could be misused against humanity, so should be used cautiously.

International Developments:

  1. Japan has recently approved the commercial cultivation of tomato variety that has been improved using CRISPR CAS technology-based intervention.
  2. In India, CSIR has developed CRISPR (cas9 technology) -based therapeutic solutions for sickle-cell anemia which is scheduled for clinical trials.

The gene-editing tool has brought a new epoch to humanity, but it could turn out to be a boon or bane which depends upon the purpose for which it is used. India’s issuance of guidelines is the right step in the direction where research involving gene editing will be strictly monitored.


National Library of Medicine 


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