In the field of biotechnology and genetic engineering, recent well accepted technology is known as CRISPR (pronounced as krisper). It is a targetted genetic code editing procedure by which the genome sequences are altered for the desired form of genome for the desired result with precision to design required proteins. Thus, you call it “crispy genetic engineering”. You may view it similar to a by-pass surgery of arteries or a copy editing and proof reading of articles!
CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. As the name denotes, those are short RNA sequences. The success of the methodology is due to its high level of reliability of action at targetted locations.
Discovery of CRISPR methodology has obtained an overwhelmed response from biotechnologists. Recent Science Magazine on 2nd August 2019 has brought out a special issue on CRISPR highlighting Chinese research, using this for carrying out human experiments successfully. China is said to have geared up to lead the global CRISPR based genetically modified plant varieties of crops and planning to polarize the vegetable market.
Days are fascinating in China where biotechnologists feel enthusiastic to edit the genetic codes in the computerized laboratories.
The CRISPR and associated proteins are called CRISPR/Cas system. Here Cas means ‘CRISPR associated’. There are three types of CRISPR/Cas are now available (type I, II & III), of which type II is the most efficient one.
Even though it has become highly popular now, this system is not new. It was already present in the bacteria developing immunity against viruses. These are considered superior to restriction enzymes due to easy programmability, fast generating capability and high efficiency in producing large number of desired genetic codes. There are single-stranded and multi-stranded molecules of these sequences.
These RNA molecules of immune system development are growing in great popularity among biotech laboratories. These are now developing to form a separate branch of biotechnology are applicable to all biological systems including human, plant and microbial systems.
There is lot of hope in use of the technology for cancer immunotherapy, allergy free food, superior breeds of pets with immunity, better quality crops, eradication of vector insects, pest resistant varieties, suppression of undesired flavours, increased shelf-life etc.
In India too, research is going on with CRISPR at Indian Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology, New Delhi and Indian Institute of Maize Research, PAU, Ludhiana. Let us hope that eventhogh genetically modified, this non-recombinant DNA technology would make Indian agriculture prosper.
To understand more about CRISPR, watch this video:
Read more on CRISPR in my other article “Gene Editing Using Simple CRISPR Tools“