CRISPR Cas 9 shaped a new era of molecular biology and it is settled down as a powerful tool for precision medicine. It is a technology that allows geneticists and medical scientists to modify genome parts of DNA sequences. The development of such technology is unparalleled and its application in human society does not bring up the distant future. “CRISPR/Cas9 has the potential to transform the world; yet, the ethical cloud of human modification overshadows these conversations.” (Catherine Buchaniec, columnist, 2019) For CRISPR Cas9 to be an invincible tool, the questions that should be addressed are how effective it is and whether it is ethical enough to target global problems.

The development of CRISPR Cas9 is a revolutionary shift in medicine and it has an ability to fix countless problems ranging from climate change to the dread of malaria.  CRISPR Cas 9 would help to target environmental issues by protecting coral reefs from damages and reducing human’s need for plastic through gene Editing.  Moreover, malaria could be eradicated by eliminating disease causing genes ,such as the FREP 1 gene, from mosquitos. It would save millions of lives each year, making dramatic progress in disease control. Furthermore, CRISPR Cas 9 has the potential to develop treatments for cancers. Immune cells could be modified so that their ability to target and to destroy the cancer cells can be strengthened. Using DNA scanning, it is now possible to evaluate the gene sensitivity to the anti-cancer drugs, leading to the development of personalized treatment.

However, recent research from 2019 highlights that the latest advance in gene editing is Prime editing and points out the problems that CRISPR Cas 9 possesses. Although CRISPR-Cas9 created an opportunity to scan DNA for the right spot and to edit it, the cuts can occur in a wrong region with the edits not being perfectly precise. CRISPR Cas9 was developed 7 years ago and the limitations of it would catch up with giving a precise shot to society’s problems. Prime editing , introduced in 2019, remedies shortcomings of CRISPR Cas 9 and makes scientists question the effectiveness of CRISPR Cas 9 when its preciseness is not fully guaranteed.

The breakthrough of CRISPR Cas 9 has led the scientific community across the globe into one of the most heated ethical debates ever. In 2018, a Chinese scientist modified embryos for their protection against HIV and it outraged the science community. The ethical and safety issues were raised and the application of CRISPR Cas 9 in the society requires a high level of caution and transparency. Though CRISPR Cas 9 has the potential to solve a great portion of society’s problems, its precision needs to be fortified and it is necessary to consider the ethical questions that CRISPR Cas 9 threw to human society for its application.

Hyunseo Noh
Hyunseo Noh

member of NLCS Jeju
Chair of NLCS Jeju Bioethics society

0 Shares:

Leave a Reply

You May Also Like
Read More

Forensic science

Who solves an unsolved case? How do you know the owner of the hair on the street? How…
Read More

Blood type testing

In South Korea, the blood types are often undervalued as a simple means of horoscope. Yet in the…
macro photography of brown insect
Read More

Pests and plants

When you begin your journey as an off-time botanist (or full!), you should not be afraid to confront…