Ge­netic mi­cro­surgery

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - HEALTH -

Five years ago, re­searchers proved that they could per­form mi­cro­surgery on genes, us­ing a pro­tein called Cas9 as a “scalpel”. This gene edit­ing tech­nique, known as CRISPR, set off an ex­plo­sion of re­search, with sci­en­tists us­ing it to ma­nip­u­late spe­cific genes in mice, rats, bac­te­ria, yeast, ze­bra fish, fruit flies and plants. Now, the first tri­als of gene edit­ing in hu­man em­bryos are un­der­way in China. Sci­en­tists there have re­ported ma­nip­u­lat­ing the genes of em­bryos to make them re­sis­tant to the HIV virus and also have edited genes linked to the sickle cell blood disor­der. Other tri­als have been ap­proved in the US, and the Gar­van In­sti­tute in Aus­tralia ex­pects that these tri­als will re­ally take off this year. This means that, in the fu­ture, we could be delet­ing – rather than treat­ing – diseases.

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