Can crispr cure cancer?
If you’ve been following the news lately, you might have heard about a new scientific technique called CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats). It sounds like a mouthful, but what it does is nothing short of amazing: it allows scientists to edit genes with unprecedented precision.
Now here’s the million-dollar question (actually, make that $1.73 billion according to Google): can CRISPR be used to cure cancer?
The Unstoppable March of Science
First things first: let’s talk about cancer. We all know someone who has had it or are fighting against it ourselves. Cancer is basically when cells in our body start growing out of control and form tumors – and they’re not supposed to do that at all!
We have lots of treatments for cancer, from chemotherapy to radiation therapy… but we still don’t have a definite cure yet.
That said, science marches on! And one promising path forward could very well be gene editing with CRISPR.
CRISPR technology harnesses natural defense mechanisms found in bacteria – weird right (not really) – which use small RNA molecules(short strands comprising ribonucleic acids) as part of their antiviral defense system(think Pacman style virus eaters). By introducing this same mechanism into human cells alongside a DNA-cutting enzyme known as Cas9,otherwise referred to as molecular scissors, scientists can delete mutations within specific genes or even insert new ones directly into genomic stretches without causing any disturbances (imagine specks pruned off effectively without hurting important strands) .
Pretty cool stuff. But how does this translate into curing cancer?
Using CRISPR Against Cancer Cells
Here’s where things get interesting – because by using CRISPR effectively/accurately, you can potentially isolate and remove the genetic mutations that are causing cancer cells to grow uncontrollably.
See, with cancers like carcinomas – which account for roughly 85% of all cancer cases – there’s almost always a mutation(s) occurring inside various genes , resulting in changes to how those genes behave. Specifically, most cancerous cells have gene faults/mutations that cause them either [to divide too rapidly/spontaneously or avoid cell death(course follow-up of this could result in aid towards metastasis)]. Targeting these mutated genes could go jump-starting normal cell growth by replacing/editing damaged structures within a DNA sequence.
CRISPR Against Leukemia
Researchers are already experimenting with using CRISPR for treating leukemia(Blood Cancers) patients. One team from Stanford University actually managed to cure leukemia in mice by editing blood stem cells directly( similar research recently got approved by FDA).
This is big news- because despite great strides made in treating childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), about 10–20% of children still experience disease relapse after currently available therapies, according to statistics provided on Medical News Today(read below). If human trials prove successful and effective/accurate at generating heritable corrections [EDITING THE GLITCH]in genetically related ALL patients(mutation correction/clearance), this therapy would provide significant medical relief across target populations worldwide.
Okay so knowing all these might prompt one into believing crispr is nothing less than an elixir right? Let’s take it one step at a time.
There’s definitely work ahead before we see widespread use of CRISPR as a cancer treatment:
1.The first challenge would be getting the virus CCR5 edited out without having any secondary complications which was noticed during chinese twins experiment some years ago.”[2 heads not definitively better]”
2. One other challenge could be limitations to drug delivery, safety & target specificity – Scientists have worries over CRISPR’s cutting tool, Cas9 which is feared may cause off-target effects (Crispr mistakenly makes modifications in a region of the genome outside what was intended). This basically means you would need a way to ensure that CRISPR only targets cancer cells and not normal healthy ones around it.
While there are definitely still many uncertainties ahead (I mean if chinese twins can get okayed for experimentation) , we have reasons to be optimistic- It’s ridiculous not to right? Gene editing with CRISPR has already made remarkable strides in treating various diseases /creating casseroles; Cancer treatment just happens to one of the latest entries on that list. Researchers will benefit from using the technology as a discovery tool in search of new cancer drug targets, too— they also anticipate exploration into even more creative ways^(just another science magic trick)of pairing genes and associated mutations with targeted therapies.
Thus,time holds answers for technology but until then seiku(life) must continue as Warily ascertained by Albert Einstein.