Is the risk of using CRISPR justified? Let's think

New CRISPR headlines appear everya week by touting the potential of gene editing to remake the world we know — from creating more appropriate food sources to saving coral reefs and improving cancer treatments. However, there are not very good news: for example, there is the possibility of inadvertently damaging DNA during editing or editing non-target sites.

In addition, given the complexity of the DNA mechanism, we are not even ready to test CRISPR in humans. Officially, anyway - “in a black way” precedents are already appearing. The possibilities are very big and none ofThe effects of CRISPR does not have an instant effect, good or bad. However, the region is still in its infancy, and with an adequate amount of research, we have a wonderful potential to change life, to make it better.

How dangerous is CRISPR? No research - very

And yet, in my opinion, we are faced with morea major obstacle than potential disadvantages of CRISPR technology. Despite the potential of this tool to solve a number of the world's largest problems, not enough research in the field of gene editing has been conducted and is being conducted to address these problems in general. The point is not a lack of scientific knowledge, not the absence of interested specialists or investments, no. The problem lies in the limitations of the tools that are currently used for editing genes, both in terms of performance and access. CRISPR can be viewed as in some sense biological weapons: access to it is strictly limited, but if it is in the wrong hands it can become extremely dangerous.

Performance and access issues occurwith CRISPR nucleases, its molecular scissors that cut DNA. These nucleases, including Cas9, are important tools in gene editing research. But if commercial researchers want to use Cas9, they face a high price of licensing, as well as royalties for everything found during the study. As for academic studies, they, of course, can use Cas9 without such burdens, but are limited in commercialization opportunities. After commercialization, they will also be burdened, like commercial researchers.

All this means that many great ideas and innovations in the field of CRISPR are left out.

Imagine that you are a scientist, an academic whospent years, painstakingly exploring the oncological applications of Cas9. You made a breakthrough, found a possible treatment for patients. You will probably decide for the benefit of medicine and those suffering to transfer the decision of the pharmaceutical company for development, clinical research and, ultimately, mass production of treatment. But it was not there. At present, parties that own or use an exclusive license to use Cas9 may, in theory, request a share of the profits, or block the development of the product altogether if it competes with their own development activities.

In addition, even those lucky enough to getunhindered access to CRISPR enzymes; additional tools will be needed for their exact application. Scientists need precise tools to conduct research — reliable, scalable, low-cost — so that they can progress in the promising area of ​​CRISPR technology.

Take a look at your smartphone and compare it - withwith all its applications and programs - with mainframe computers of the past. The difference in performance and availability of smartphone technologies is astounding when compared with dinosaur technology.

Gene editing is still in todayat an early stage of development, akin to a large and awkward mainframe in the field of computing. However, CRISPR has tremendous transformative potential and, like calculations, can change the way the individual problems are solved in the cortex. To achieve this reality, additional research in the field of gene editing is needed, but existing research tools are not sufficiently developed for far-sighted biologists to realize the potential of CRISPR.

Biologists are asked to solve the most complicated problems.humanity; but trying to do this without the necessary tools will not be optimal. To resolve this issue, the scientific community - with the support of business and technology industry leaders - must invest time and knowledge not only in CRISPR research, but also in developing the necessary tools for this research.

Do you think CRISPR is waiting for the fate of the computer? Let's discuss in our chat in Telegram.