Gene editing Technology Current Affairs - 2020

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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%.

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Chinese researchers create world’s first single chromosome yeast

Researchers from China’s Centre for Excellence in Molecular Plant Sciences have claimed to have created the world’s first single-chromosome yeast while not affecting the majority of its functions. The experiment was conducted on Brewer’s yeast having 16 chromosomes and which shares its one-third genome ancestry with humans. Researchers were able to fit nearly all genetic material of Brewer’s yeast into just one chromosome without affecting majority of its functions.

About Research

Researchers had used CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing technology to create a single-chromosome yeast strain. Using CRISPR-Cas9, researchers removed DNA at telomeres (ends of chromosomes that protect them from degrading) and also snipped out centromeres, sequences in middle that are important to DNA replication.  Firstly in this process, researchers had fused two chromosomes and then joined product to another chromosome and repeated process in successive rounds until there was only one chromosome left.

Significance

The research had revealed that number of chromosomes of eukaryote has no correlation with amount of genetic information they possess.  It also showed that all genetic information can be concentrated in just one chromosome. It provides new approach to studying the functions of telomeres by simplifying complex genome system. This research may help in furthering research related to aging and diseases in humans. In future, it may also pave way for new man-made species in the future.

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