In this day and age, there is not really much in our everyday that hasn’t been genetically modified in some form or the other at some point in time - the food in our fridges and pantries have at least been selectively bred to produce desirable traits, so it isn’t surprising that such a field is moving at such à rapid pace.
One of the newer and more successful advancements in this field is the CRISPR (Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) technology in which the DNA of the target organism can be directly modified. This technology, discovered by bacterial activity, uses Cas- (CRISPR associated) proteins to precisely slice away certain sections of DNA identified by an RNA molecule. Although there are other technologies that edit can edit genetic information in equally mind-blowing ways, CRISPR is often considered the more efficient and accurate technology, and can also be used in every organism.
Hopefully this short introduction will inspire you all to look deeper into this field of study, and help solve health issues that may just be answered by a DNA sequence you help alter.
After all, one of the very first pioneers of this very technology was female, and respected as one. Jennifer Doudna applied the activity of bacteria to this ground-breaking technology, and made it accessible and applicable to many researchers. Her work in this field is quite outstanding, and almost earned her a spot as 2016’s person of the year! Check it out here.
Genetic engineering, although there is some bad press about it, it does have many significant benefits (click here) and will be a big part of the future medical scene - so for those eager med-students, keep your eyes peeled and ears tuned!
Written by Cynthia Liu