A Genetic Cure

October 19, 2018

Cancer is a class of diseases leading to out-of-control cell growth and has been becoming more common. Despite the fact that many types of cancer are untreatable, scientists may have found a cure for ovarian and breast cancer which involves genetic editing such as CRISPR. 


CRISPR stands for “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat.” According to Dictionary.com, CRISPR is “the technology of targeting a DNA-detecting molecule to a specific genetic sequence for the purpose of editing a gene’s base pairs.” In other words, CRISPR is an engineering tool that can replace any gene from a DNA sequence with another type of gene. Genes are building blocks that line up in specific orders to create genetic codes for specific facial features like hair and eye color. Many people may have even heard of people designing their future babies with CRISPR. The advantage of CRISPR is that we may be able to use it to colonize planets or get rid of diseases and deformities such as the BRCA1 gene mutation.

 

The gene being targeted by CRISPR is called BRCA1. It stands for BReast CAncer and is a common gene among women. The gene is a mutation that can lead to breast or ovarian cancer. According to  National Cancer Institute, “72% of women who inherit a harmful BRCA1 mutation will develop breast cancer by the age of 80.” This can occur if the gene is passed down by a close relative such as a parent. 

 

CRISPR can permanently modify genes in living cells. Using CRISPR, scientists hope to be able to replace the BRCA1 gene mutation with a normal gene in order to prevent breast and ovarian cancer. Although we have not won the war against cancer yet, CRISPR may be our secret weapon that will help us win.

 

 

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