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Disruptive Technologies: A look at genome editing

Amnah Mahmood

A major technological innovation on the horizon that I believe will have significant impact on the global society is genome editing. Genome editing, also known as, genome engineering is a type of genetic engineering in which DNA can be used to add, remove, or alter the genome of a living organism (“Genome Editing”). The term genome typically refers to the entire sequence of DNA of an organism. By modifying the genome, the characteristics of an organism can be changed. A common approach in modern research is to alter the DNA sequence or even a single cell and observe its effect on an organism.

Genome editing will impact the way we live in many ways. It has an immeasurable range of possible applications in living things including bacterium, plants, animals or even human beings. Recently in agriculture, genome editing has been used to genetically alter crops to expand their yields and resistance to pests and diseases (“What is Genome”). It has also been used to make them more tolerant of various environmental conditions.

Additionally, researchers are now experimenting with genome editing as a treatment for disease. They expect to use it to correct diseases that have genetic bases such as cancer and asthma (“How is Genome”). According to researchers, data collected from leukemia patients demonstrated an 83% complete remission rate in certain cases (“Genome Editing”). It can also be used to prevent inheritance of disease traits that are sometimes transmitted during reproduction.

Ultimately physicians might be able to recommend targeted gene therapy through the application of genome editing techniques to make corrections to patients’ genomes and stop certain diseases from spreading or preventing them altogether. Due to the fact that it offers the ability to reconsider how we treat diseases, it is going to change the way people are treated by curing the roots of diseases instead of simply treating the symptoms (“Gene Editing”). Genome editing is considered to be the next transformative step in medicine and will, therefore, have major impact on the way we live in the coming years.

Sources:

“Gene Editing.” Cellectis, www.cellectis.com/en/research/gene-editing.

“Genome Editing.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 July 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genome_editing.

“How Is Genome Editing Used?” National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), 3 Aug. 2017, www.genome.gov/27569224/how-is-genome-editing-used/.

“What Is Genome Editing?” Facts, The Public Engagement Team at the Welcome Genome Campus, 23 Aug. 2017, www.yourgenome.org/facts/what-is-genome-editing.

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