Gene editing Technology Current Affairs - 2020

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.

Facts Box: ICMR Guidelines on Gene Therapy

The Indian Council on Medical Research has issued guidelines on Gene Therapy. The aim of the guideline is to enable the stakeholders comply with the R&D of Gene Therapeutic Products being produced and tested inside the country.

Overview of the guidelines

The guide includes scientific and ethical considerations that are allowed in gene therapy. It explains the responsibilities of investigators, sponsors, institutions. It also lists the considerations like quality assurance, manufacturing and control, etc. The guidelines give clear overview about rules to be followed during clinical trials.

The guide also explains on the principles to hold while signing international collaboration and procurement of Genetic Therapeutic Products (GTP). The GTP are entities that deliver nucleic acid by various means for therapeutic benefit to patients.

Significance

In the past three years the cell therapy products in the country have increased. Their approvals have so far been provided by EU and US regulators hired by GoI. This paved way for the industry to develop. These therapies are mainly used to treat rare diseases. India is home to 70 million patients suffering from these rare diseases.

Also, the market for treating these rare diseases is expected to grow in the country. It is predicted that the revenue from these industries is to reach 250 billion USD by 2024 and is expected to grow by 11.3%.