Covid-19 is a breakthrough in medical technology. The mRNA technology in vaccines against the new coronavirus is the most advanced and basic.
Technology has been in this field for many years and there are constant advances, despite opposition and noise. These six words were first used by the medical community in 2012: 'Clustered Regularly Inspaced Short Palindromic Repeats'. They would be called 'grouped and frequently interspaced short Palindromic Repeats' in Spanish, but they are also known by the English acronym CRISPR.
It was discovered at the University of Alicante in the 1990s. Francisco Juan Martinez Mojica, a microbiologist, patiently analyzed genetic material from the archaea Haloferax mediterranei. This unicellular microorganism was found in Alicante's Santa Pola salt flats. Its genome contained repeated sequences of nucleotides (molecular 'building blocks' which make up DNA andRNA). Feng Zhang, Emmanuelle Charpentier, and Jennifer Doudna all supported this first step between 2012 and 2013. They used them to create a very simple, flexible and powerful tool that could edit any cell's DNA.
CRISPR was introduced to society in 2015 and has been considered the most significant scientific advancement of 2015. It allows the deciphering of repetitive sequences in the DNA of bacteria. This technique uses the Cas9 gene to cut DNA in selected areas. It is the one that has caused the most controversy since its invention.
CRISPRs can also be known as "generic scissors" because you can cut and paste the ends, inactivate the genes, insert DNA templates, and even cut and paste them. It can also be used in any situation that involves the modification of a genetic sequence. This is extremely useful for researching diseases and creating new drugs.
Human curiosity exceeded legal and ethical limits. He Jiankui, a Chinese scientist, genetically modified twins to lower the chance of their parents passing HIV to them. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment in China for illegal medical practice. The scientific community was unhappy because the gene editing technology was not well developed enough to ensure the safety of the girls.
The World Health Organization (WHO), after this difficult issue, opened a wide consultation. It has now produced the first recommendations for gene editing in humans, after two years of hard work. Tedros Adhanom says that gene editing has the potential to improve the ability to cure and treat disease. However, the full benefit will be realized if it is implemented for the benefit all people and not just to foster greater health inequity within and between countries. Ghebreyesus is the Director General of WHO.
Hereditary editing of human genome is a major concern of WHO. According to WHO recommendations, altering the human genome in embryos could be passed on to future generations and modify the traits of descendants.
Although the pandemic has caused some delays, it is now possible to set minimums for where you should move. Since gene editing has potential benefits for all, not just rich countries, the WHO experts had to include scientists, patient associations and spiritual leaders. .
The organization's latest document is available at the end of July. It details the benefits of genetic techniques in personalized treatment of diseases, including cancer. However, they also warn against the dangers of moving ahead in this area without ensuring that all processes are monitored.
CRISPR's biggest problem is ethics. Felix Recilla (director of the Institute of Cellular Physiology of UNAM), called the controversial Chinese experiment of 2018 unadmissible. He said that the embryos were healthy and had been modified using the CRISPR/Cas 9 technology, which caused a mutation in CCR5 gene to make girls more resistant to infection.
It would be illegal to conduct such a trial in Spain, which is a signatory of the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine. This convention prohibits modifications to the human genome that could be passed to offspring. However, countries such as China, Japan and the United States resisted the document. This limits its scope.
The WHO also recommends intellectual property, values and international collaboration. Dr. Soumya Swminathan, chief scientist of the WHO, stated that as global research continues to dig deeper into the human genome, it is important to minimize risks and harness science's potential to improve health for all people.
Their efforts coincide with the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Human Genome Project's completion. The scientific division of World Health Organization won't conduct an exhaustive review of its recommendations or the progress of countries to implement them until three more years. This examination will cover 18 months and will consider the evolution of genetic methods as well as the social impact they have had up until that point.