The Future of Gene Editing: Where Is It Headed?

Genetic technologies are advancing rapidly, with many expecting gene editing to transform our world. Although scientists have already done a lot using tools like CRISPR, they are leveraging their ability to modify targeted DNA with higher precision than ever before. Even though we have a lot to look at from the past, it is always a good exercise to look forward and see what could excite us about gene editing in the future.

Transforming Human Health

While there is no way of knowing the future, we can extrapolate from what has already happened. Scientists have already used gene editing to correct a mutation thought to be responsible for sickle cell disease. The mutation is located in the hemoglobin-beta gene, and previous attempts to edit it have failed. Scientists used Prime Editing to correct it and effectively cure the condition.

With so much work going into looking at which genes are responsible for certain conditions, we can expect many other such breakthroughs that lead to human health improvements and the elimination of debilitating conditions in the future.

The Use of Non-Viral Gene Editing Platforms

In the past, viral delivery methods have been the best ways of transferring gene materials in large quantities into mature cells. These methods are not 100% efficient but have been used in processes like CRISPR for a long time.

Now, scientists have developed non-viral delivery mechanisms that can transport large quantities of materials with better efficiency and sidestep the issues associated with the methods used in the past. One such option is PiggyBac.

Scientists have already demonstrated the high efficiency and stability of PiggyBac integration in different genomes. PiggyBac also has a much larger cargo capacity at over 200kb, much higher than scientists have achieved with viral delivery vehicles and transposons.

Use of Gene Editing in Agriculture

Although most of the focus on gene editing has to do with healthcare, there are interesting applications of the technology in agriculture. Scientists are already using gene editing techniques they have learned in the past to alter the genomes of various crops.

By doing so, they hope to help the world deal with persistent issues such as food waste and insecurity. Gene editing in agriculture can also help us tackle many of the agricultural challenges the world faces today related to climate change.

Additionally, such gene editing could lead to farmers not needing to use harmful chemicals, which will benefit the environment and all consumers of food grown this way.

Even though scientists have had success with it, they do not carry out plant gene editing widely due to the concern about the safety of the plants altered this way.

Considering the Ethics of Gene Editing

Even though this has been a topic of discussion since CRISPR was announced, many more people are talking about the ethics of gene editing. Numerous opinions exist on the subject, and we are likely to see discussions that either propel it forward or halt its advancements.

Gene editing is not a new technology by any means, but it remains an exciting one. With its potential to change the world, there is a lot of attention and focus on it. There are also lots of future predictions about it, but we can only wait to see if they come true.

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