How CRISPR-Cas9 Could Cure Cancer

Cancer, a plague on humanity. Chances are you’ve seen someone close to you taken by this horrific disease. Now, there may just be a way to cure it.

The Costs of Cancer

In 2014, Cancer killed more than 44,000 people in Australia, and that number is estimated to increase to more than 47,000 this year. That’s at least 182,000 people who have had a loved one taken away from them over only 2 years.

Ovarian Cancer Cells Source: Nephron (2010)

What is cancer, you may ask. Well, it is a disease caused by certain mutations in the DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid), the structure of which happens to dictate our very state of physical being. These mutations always seem to cause a huge amount of suffering for the unfortunate people with cancer.

CRISPR-Cas9, A Revelation

In recent years, a new technology has been created called CRISPR-Cas9. Funnily enough, it was isolated from bacteria found in yoghurt. Highly effective at its job, CRISPR-Cas9 can edit genes, and most importantly scientists can choose which genes to edit.

So, it makes sense that it can change the genes that cause cancer. As it turns out, this is exactly what scientists have recently achieved.

It was found that changes made by CRISPR-Cas9 could stop certain cancer cells from replicating. With further research, scientists may be able to stop all cancer cells from replicating using CRISPR-Cas9.

Concerns with CRISPR-Cas9

Many may take issue with CRISPR-Cas9 because it can be used to edit ‘germline cells’ (cells with DNA that can be inherited) and embryos. Some say this screams of eugenics, others suggest it may cause a rippling effect among generations that will be forever changed by gene editing.

But this is only in the case of ‘germline cells’ and embryos. The treatment of cancer would only need to edit cells with uninheritable DNA, so would only affect the individual.

Of course, there are very legitimate concerns in using CRISPR-Cas9 in cells with DNA that is not inherited as well. CRISPR-Cas9 could potentially edit DNA that is not harmful, and instead cause injury to the individual.

Why CRISPR-Cas9 Research is Important

This is why further research is needed in this rapidly growing field, especially about how CRISPR-Cas9 works. Knowing everything there is to know about CRISPR-Cas9 will help decrease any ill effects of its use.

As it stands, not allowing the use of CRISPR-Cas9 in the treatment of diseases will only harm humanity. The potential of CRISPR-Cas9 is too great to ignore, and while further research and responsible use are needed, CRISPR-Cas9 may in time provide a cure for cancer.

 

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