US and South Korean scientists have developed a new technique using CRISPR technology that can prevent up to 10 000 disorders that are passed down the generations.
Scientists from this international team have for the first time removed a piece of faulty DNA that causes a deadly heart disease to run in families. They have achieved this without introducing harmful mutations which were one of the main problems in previous attempts.
The study was done by taking a sperm from a man with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy that was injected into healthy donated eggs alongside CRISPR technology was used to correct the defect. At the end of the experiment, most of the embryos were free from disease causing mutations.
This has not only allowed for the individual to not express the gene but also for reduction of the burden of this heritable disease on the family and eventually the human population. Patients affected by another disease than the one stated above that can benefit from such discovery are Huntington’s disease, cystic fibrosis and cases of breast and ovarian cancer caused by mutations in the BRCA genes. Potentially it can also help to an inherited form of Alzheimer’s disease and other diseases which are inherited.
What is CRISPR method?
They have achieved this by using CRISPR method which is based on the prokaryotic (bacterial) immune system where it inactivates certain genes. CRISPR was first used to change mosquitos so they cannot transmit diseases such as malaria. In the end of 2014 more than 600 studies were written about CRISPR technology to functionally inactivate genes in human cell lines and cells. CRISPR was named the breakthrough of the year 2015.
How will fertility treatment benefit using CRISPR method?
This new technique is primarily going to be used in the future for IVF embryos in order to ensure a healthy baby and also to eliminate diseases from our population. Many people fear that this method is going to be for more wealthy individuals and that it can cause certain individuals that come from these families to be better off in their life as they will be “super babies”. Czech IVF specialists have said that this method is not as expensive to perform as people think as well as when it will be used in IVF testing, economies of scale will apply to this method thus reduce the price.
Source: BBC news