Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats
By Joe Hammond
CRISPR stands for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.” Those repeats are found in your bacteria’s DNA. They are stored pieces of viruses that have attacked your body in the past. Bacteria use them to identify those bad viruses when they attack your body again. Within your bacteria is an enzyme, Cas9, that can cut apart DNA. Bacteria know how to instantly fight the bad viruses that they have a copy of so they send out the Cas9 enzyme to cut through the DNA of these viruses, which kills them, before they have a chance to take over. Your body set up this identification system so that your bacteria didn’t get trigger happy and start cutting the DNA apart of a cell until it was sure it was an enemy.
Scientists and researchers knew they had discovered something monumental, and they also knew they had a lot to learn, this discovery happened in 1993, decades ago.
What Did Scientists Expect to Develop With This Process They Named CRISPR
Scientists were intrigued by the fact that the Cas9 had the ability to find the invading virus cells and make a clean cut of their DNA. Gradually their objective took form.
The Scientific Objective
All living things on the Earth can be changed by CRISPR, all humans, all animals, and all plants.
CRISPR for Humans can do almost anything from the embryo stage to old age
Fix Birth Defects of all kinds
Make people bigger, smaller, stronger, smarter, etc.
Enable people to live indefinitely without aging
CRISPR for Animals
China seems to be leading all countries in animal CRISPR research. Their scientists are doing a lot of CRISPR research with monkeys. They have also given beagles muscular legs and are developing pig organs for people.
CRISPR for Plants
The plant research with CRISPR has been going on for quite a long time. Some of the very early food modifications were developed by other methods but CRISPR is taking over and fixing some of the earlier mistakes. Tomatoes are starting to taste like tomatoes again, limes have juice again, and there are promises that food will not only taste better but it will also gain back some of the nutrition it lost with the initial modifications.
How Does CRISPR Work
After all the modifications through the last 27 years since CRISPR was discovered, here is where we are today.
Two different groups claim to have the patent rights to CRISPR, the lawyers on both sides have been battling since 1993 when both groups discovered CRISPR at about the same time. This leaves the field wide open throughout the world. The people doing the research say it is not expensive so there are probably groups working somewhere in the world who are ahead of what I am about to explain.
Here is my explanation without all the scientific jargon.
The scientist prepares the perfect DNA, it could be to fix a birth defect, a bad heart, dementia, or make someone live 200 years. That DNA is given to many Cas9 messengers to deliver the DNA to specific cells in your body. The Cas9 is not always able to identify its target DNA so a guide RNA molecule binds up with the Cas9 because the RNA can read over twice as many letter codes of the target DNA as the Cas 9 enzyme. It is now not certain but likely that they will reach their goal. Once there, CRISPR works like a pair of molecular scissors. It cuts DNA at specific locations and either deletes sections or replaces them with alternate sequences. That is the basic explanation of how CRISPR works.
TED talk by Geneticist Jennifer Doudna, one of the inventors of CRISPR. It has over 800,000 views.
CRISPR is the most monumental thing happening on earth right now, and most people know nothing about it.
The National Geographic magazine recently published an article where they stated, “No discovery of the past century holds more promise – or raises more troubling ethical questions”.
The questions involve, selected people having super powers, if everyone can live indefinitely we will destroy the Earth, and if only a few can live forever, how are they chosen.
So now you are in the group of those who know about CRISPR for better or worse. As we go forward we have this space that I have set aside exclusively for CRISPR so that I can enlighten you with any information I can find as we progress further into the possibilities of CRISPR. The possibilities are incredibly wonderful or incredibly bad, let’s make them wonderful.