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CRISPR: Changing the way we Live and Eat

Jun 6, 2020 by Esteban Kosak

Genetic editing tools represent the future of tailored medical treatment for an immense variety of diseases, including HIV and cancer. Even though these medical tools are not ready yet for their planned medical uses, there is experimental evidence from trials that have proven them as potential game-changers in the future of medical treatments.

CRISPR-edited food

One the most famous cases that show the effectiveness of this therapy is from 2017 when a 28 years old patient with sickle cell disease, a congenital disorder where red blood cells tend to transform from discs into sickles, received a bone marrow transplant and genetic treatment and has shown no sign of disease ever since. This clinical trial is still undergoing, and the results are promising. Other trials are also underway to develop CRISPR's usage in treatment for different types of tumors such as lymphomas and breast cancer.

Crispr is short for "clustered regulatory interspersed short palindromic repeats" and works by deleting the genes that cause illness and, in their place, copy non-disease sequences from the same species and add them two where the gene was deleted.

This tool is not limited to human diseases or the human genome; it is also being tested in plants and crops to modify some characteristics and make them more flavorful or resistant to certain afflictions. Unlike the EU, crops whose genes have been edited will not be labeled as such in the US.

Gene editing can be used to make crops easier to pick mechanically, or to increase the shelf life of tender fruits and vegetables, or to make produce easier to transport, for example. 

One of the main issues with this new technology is the bioethics aspect, as changing our genome can become a double-edged sword. The steps this technology may represent for humankind are virtually endless and could change life as we know it.
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