CRISPR-Cas9 Current Affairs - 2020

Feluda: COVID-19 test developed by CSIR-IGIB scientists

The IGIB (Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology) operating under CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) have come up with a COVID-19 test called “Feluda”.

Highlights

The test has been named after a detective character in the stories of film maker Satyajit Ray. The total time taken by the test to produce results is 1 hour.

About the test

The test starts the same way as that of the Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), that is, extraction of RNA (Ribo Nucleic Acid) and converting into deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The highly specific FnCAS9 and CRISPR binds to the sequence. These binding agents then give positivity or negativity results based on the presence of COVID-19.

Advantages

In RT-PCR tests, primers and probes are used to convert RNA to DNA. They amplify the presence of viral nucleic acid. However, in order to achieve this confirmation, the expensive RT-PCR machines are required. This is not so in the case of Feluda. Hence, Feluda is much cheaper and feasible.

CRISPR (CaS9)-The Gene Editing Tool used to treat blindness for the first time

The Gene Editing Tool called CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) has been used for the first time to treat blindness. However, doctors claimed that it will take a month to check if the vision of the patient has restored. This has been achieved at the Oregon University, Portland, USA.

What is CRISPR?

It is a family of DNA sequences that are found in prokaryotic organisms like bacteria. They are derived from DNA of Bacteriophages. Bacteriopage is a virus that infects bacteria and archaea.

Technology Used

The CRISPR-Cas is used to edit genes in an organism. It is an enzyme. Cas is CRISPR Associated protein.

How does it work?

The CRISPR based tool allows to target genomic location. After identifying the target, it adds, removes or alters that particular DNA sequence.

Pros and Cons

The Gene Editing technology can be used to modify disease causing genes. It is capable of editing genetic diseases as well. On the other hand, it marks irreversible changes in the bodies of future children. Many activists believe that it is unethical and against nature.