How scientists intend to make diseases disappear forever

By Joshua Amaugo November 30, 2015 18:02

How scientists intend to make diseases disappear forever

A new scientific technique known as CRISPR (Clusters of Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), system or a prokaryotic immune system that confers resistance to foreign genetic elements such as plasmids and phages has been discovered.

Scientists have disclosed that it is possible to eliminate facial muscular dystrophy using this newer editing technique, to replace the offending gene and “turn off” the condition.

According to CRISPR scientists, the new innovation is a mix of protein and RNA to bind to a gene and give it an overhaul although it has not been proven to work with every genetic condition. An initial test was only 50% effective.

If the gene mending comes out entirely successful, aside the conventional fighting of diseases, it will go a long way in eliminating diseases altogether and transform the entire medical field as a consequence.

Doctors could treat the root cause of a genetic disease rather than deal with the symptoms, and possibly wipe it out completely or at least, make it more manageable.

Diseases like Sickle-cell anemia, HIV, schizophrenia and autism essentially and anything involving bad DNA is now fair game.

A study published earlier in Journal Molecular Therapy which focuses on Facioscapulohumeral, a muscular dystrophy, or FSHD, which is one of the most common forms of muscular dystrophy sheds more light.

These genetic diseases have caused muscle fibers in the face, shoulders and upper arms to weaken over time with no known cure.

With the new gene editing techniques, researchers can now easily change, delete or replace genes in any plant or animal, including people.

The Huffington Post last week, while comparing what CRISPR can do to earlier attempts at genetic manipulation said, “We used to have a butter knife, now we’ve got a scalpel. This means they can rewrite the human genome at will.”

Peter Jones who decided to give CRISPR a try with a team of FSHD researchers a year ago, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School had a beautiful idea that thousands of genes in the human genome caused the disease, the study continued until CRISPR came along therapeutic avenues which were limited.

Lead author on the study Charis Himeda, said, “I think progress for any disease is really progress for all diseases, because a lot of these therapies and technologies are going to turn out to be broadly applicable.

“I think there’s reason to be really hopeful that someday it’ll actually lead to great therapies for genetic diseases as long as we’re not too eager to get this to the clinic right away.

“There are things that we don’t understand yet that we need to characterize before we move forward.”