- CRISPR-Cas9, a form of “molecular scissors,” allows for very precise DNA editing, i.e., the removal, addition or altering of sections of a DNA sequence
- While CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing is more precise in that you can target a specific area of the genome, two recent studies warn the gene editing process can trigger cancer
- When you cut the two double helix strands of the DNA, the injury triggers the cell to activate a gene called p53 — a “biochemical first-aid kit” that either mends the DNA break or signals the cell to self-destruct; so, either the genome edit is mended or the cell dies
- In instances where the cell survives and accepts the edit, it does so because it has dysfunctional p53, and p53 dysfunction has been shown to significantly increase your risk of cancer
- CRISPR stock dropped between 5 and 13 percent within days of the findings’ publication
By Dr. Mercola
The discovery of the gene editing method known as CRISPR1 eventually led to a novel gene editing tool called CRISPR-Cas9,2 a form of molecular scissors that allows for far more accurate DNA editing for the removal, addition or altering of sections of a DNA sequence. A layman’s explanation of the technology is presented in the video above.
CRISPR is the acronym for clustered regularly interspaced short palindrome repeat, and its function was initially discovered in 1993 by Spanish researcher Francisco Mojica.3 Mojica hypothesized CRISPR is an adaptive immune system, which has since been confirmed. Two decades later, in 2013, the technology known as CRISPR-Cas9 was successfully used to edit the genome in eukaryotic cells for the first time, demonstrating targeted genome cleavage could be achieved in mouse and human cells.
As reported by Nature4 in 2016, “Researchers use CRISPR-Cas9 to make precise changes to genomes that remove or edit a faulty gene. It has worked on nearly every creature on which they have tested it, including human embryos.” In the wake of these discoveries, a number of CRISPR-based companies have sprung to life with the hopes of furthering gene editing in everything from food and medicine5 to eventually producing “designer babies” that have had unwanted genetic traits edited out.
However, while CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing is more precise in that you can target a specific area of the genome, two recent studies call for a rethink, as the process of gene editing can trigger cancer.6,7 As noted by STAT News8 these findings could be “a potential game-changer for the companies developing CRISPR-based therapies.”