Gene Therapy to Transform Biology
Over the past two years, the site specificity gene editing via CRISPR-Cas9 (clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)–CRISPR-associated protein) technology has shown a stunning progress, triggering a revolution in the genome wide studies
Even researchers in China claimed modification of the genomes of human embryos using CRISPR-Cas9 tool, triggering a major ethics debate. Nevertheless, biologists armed with CRISPR–Cas9 are hurrying to use this tool to tinker with the genomes of human somatic cells, viruses, bacteria, animals and plants including combating disease, improving agriculture and even making designer menagerie.
Along with the CRISPR–Cas9 democratizing gene editing in the laboratory, this tool has also gained huge impetus in the area of patents with wider range of industrial applications. Indeed, year wise patent filing trend in the domain of CRISPER/Cas clearly depicts its importance as the numbers of patent applications have increased more than 50 times within the last 3 years with maximum applications of 850 in 2015. The patent filing trend of the last few years demonstrates that CRISPR is racing ahead of its competitor nucleases like TALEN and ZFN, though these gene editing tools were available earlier. The dominance of CRISPR/Cas over other gene editing tools is because of the fact that CRISPR-Cas9 system does not rely on protein engineering, which further makes designing target simpler, more efficient, ability to perform multiplexed mutations, and highly economical.
The message is clear, CRISPR is rapidly capturing everything which has DNA as a basic source of information from prokaryotes to humans, and with all of its potential it is going to transform the approach of genetic engineering in research institutions and industries around the world.
Dr. Sudhanshu Das from Ingenious e-Brain Solutions.