University of Alicante
There is rarely a scientific season out of papers or the disclosure magazines to walk around bars and family dinners. But CRISPR, despite its many conspiracies, has been fulfilled. And for less, there is an instrument that opens the doors to mean births, the possibility that it will surprise and eliminate us almost evenly.
Y word is the acronym for Regular Short Palindromic Reactions regularly (in Spanish, regular, short and regular palindromic repetitions), and refers to a DNA region of prototyotes (bacteria and archaea) "repeated several times in a very special way and comes from bacteria, viruses, or genetic immigration material that enters into antiquity and is taken into account in order to combat it, "explained Francisco Mojica, a microbiologist at the University of Alicante (Spain), one of parents and creatures and responsible for baptizing with this name. "To destroy it, they use some proteins, some scissors that are led by the previous information that their ancestors gathered to the DNA region of the immigration virus and they cut it." This is the basis of the revolutionary technique developed by researchers Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna in 2012 to mean DNA of any livelihood.
If there has been more social debate recently about this technique, because the Chinese researcher, He Jiankui, has ensured (with no evidence so far) used to create the firstborn genetically modified babies infection of HIV viruses, and cholera. The scientific community, including its creator, has shown unanimous refusal to treat human embryos genetics. But the street argument is being served.
Mojica liked Nobel's prizes for a couple of years, although he says that winning this award would be "more of a problem". Therefore, this scientist was bad in conversation with N + 1 where he explains with patience the significance of this news and where the investigation with CRISPR is going.
Question: If it was confirmed that genitalized two Chinese genetically modified Chinese girls, what would be the results?
Answer: At the social level, it has a huge impact. Since 2013, some of the scientists knew that what happened could happen, so dialogue was sought on the issue of genetic editing, not only within the scientific field but in society, for making decisions and legislating to & # 39; w convert to new times. And this seems to have been a significant boost. It was said that "the wolf is coming, the wolf comes", because he is already here: in principle, any condition of being human we knew what his genetic determinants could change and we are talking, though example, of increasing memory
Q: Is there any negative impact on the health of these women?
A: The author says that, but most specialist genetics say yes. The technology is not yet mature. This can lead to what is called mosaic, that is, different adjustments in different cells. One part of the body would be modified in one way and another in a different way. This mix in the individual would have much more dramatic results because it is impossible to predict what will happen.
Some of these women or both may develop problems such as being more vulnerable to the flu virus, or other consequences that we do not know. According to the previous experiments made on animals and that one of the parents' only was adapted to one of the girls and not another, it could mean that they were still exposed to AIDS virus infection. Nothing could be achieved.
What can happen now is that the fear that this has created is a response that blows research, something that I do not think should happen: one is another research that should be used & # 39; That research to improve disease. The application must be done when the research ensures the minimum or benefit risk that is much higher than that risk.
Q: What type of investigations with this technique are currently being carried out?
A: In clinical trials made as God sends, the regulations are followed, reporting what is achieved, obtaining all necessary licenses and all necessary precautions. For example, study how to fight cancer with immunotherapy. It involves removing blood cells, specifically lymphocytes D, of the tumor and adapted so that they can destroy the tumor cells when they are returned to the patient. It also serves for other blood diseases, for example, hemophilia.
In terms of embryo research, the reasons for refusing embryos in artificial fertilization and development are investigated, as well as the possibility of remedy diseases such as hemophilia or hypertrophic heart disease. The direct intentions of these investigations are to know the results of these modifications and their effectiveness, and in the future to determine whether this could eliminate genetic problems inherited by the parents.
Q: What are the main problems that CRISPR presents?
A: There is an attack on the DNA from a living cell by cutting it with CRISPR operating the repair system for that damage, because if the cell is not repaired, it dies. These repairs can be carried out in different ways, one of which likes to have a bar and to combine and stick with glue, it's not perfect, but with the rest: the cell is try to unnecessarily repair and generate random changes in the region where the cut has occurred.
Another and more complex mechanism is the one that is used to edit: as well as giving the cell to scissors and a piece of DNA is given to the guide that matches the area where the cut occurs but does not have to match 100%, but added Additional information. Then, cell fixes use that information of the mold that has been given to it and so the information of any region of the genome can be made aware.
Another to this technique is to customize, not the DNA, where the missing information is living, but the RNA, the one who transmits this information.
Q: What is an RNA adjustment? Do we talk about the future of CRISPR?
A: Here are those who know what the subject says. With RNA, no permanent modification will be made in the cell. Although there was an issue of DNA, it would be enough, in principle, with one-off application in your life, with RNA no. The transmitter has changed so that it does not communicate bad news: you say "RNA, even if the DNA told you, no, it's you have to say this another ".
It's a great edition because it does not need to break or repair DNA. Where in A [adenina, uno de los cuatro componentes del ADN junto a citocina, guanina y timina] and you do not like that And because it produces a disease and it is known that it has been resolved by changing it to C (cytokin), with this technique can be done. At present, it has already been applied in cases with animals to see if it can alleviate some of the effects of diseases and has worked.
Q: Are we on the way to a race above of people?
A: We do not know where this will come from. History has already been taught that the views of society change radically and, sometimes, in a very short time. When the genetic engineering became apparent in the 70's, the DNA technology reconstructed & # 39; then called: "You can break, paste, reorganize the genetic knowledge of people living, how serious this is!" something that is done every day in the laboratories, or when it was proposed to give human DNA bacteria to make insulin, it first produced it, and it looks so normal and if not, there would be a lot of People who can not enjoy life more or less healthy over a long period of time. There are other examples, such as artificial fertilization.
Something similar can happen with this. We are afraid that people can be made to the letter, but what is really well received is to improve disease. When using CRISPR as a therapeutic agent in a person of a sick adult, I do not think that anyone gives any negative.
Q: You've said many times that you are not worried about the Nobel. Is the result of what happened in China take you away from this recognition?
A: Well, I would worry if they gave me (laugh). CRISPR allows to do things that could not be done before that could be done, so many doors have opened this information from the operation of the immune system of bacteria that I understand it deserves.
Do not think that people can do it malpractice, As this researcher, they take merit away. An increase in life and health sciences has been made in recent years as there has been no increase in fifty or a hundred years, we will say. The benefit is very much. I believe that CRISPR will take the Nobel prize, regardless of whom they are giving. I do not know when, perhaps in twenty years. Although you will not take it, if nothing happens either, there are certainly other areas that it deserves, so what is the difference?
Beatriz de Vera
This news has originally been published in N + 1, which adds science to it.
About N + 1: This is the first journal of scientific and technological spread that allows to reproduce it entirely or partially through communications, bloggers and influencers, talking about the text and & # 39; the link to the web: "This news has originally been published in the magazine N + 1, adding science: www.nmas1.org ".