Whether the risks of using CRISPR? Let’s think

New titles on the topic of CRISPR appear every week, advertising the potential of gene editing tothe known world — from the creation of more suitable food sources to saving coral reefs and improve cancer treatments. However, there are not very pleasant news: for example, there is the possibility of inadvertently damaging the DNA during the edit or edit inappropriate sites.

In addition, given the complexity of the mechanism of DNA, we are not even close to ready to test CRISPR people. Officially, at least — “black” the precedents are already there. The possibility is very large, and none of the consequences of CRISPR has no immediate effect, good or bad. However, the area is still in its infancy, and with proper amount of research we get wonderful potential to change lives, to make it better.

How dangerous is CRISPR? Without research — very

And yet, in my opinion, we face a more serious obstacle than the potential drawbacks of CRISPR technology. Despite the potential of this tool to solve some of the world’s largest problems currently conducted and there has been little research in the area of gene editing, to even touch these issues. The reason is not the lack of scientific knowledge, not the lack of interested specialists or investments, no. The problem lies in the limitations of the tools that are currently being used to edit the genes, both from the point of view of performance and access. CRISPR can be regarded as in some sense a biological weapon: the access is strictly limited, but in the wrong hands it can be extremely dangerous.

Problems of productivity and access meet with the CRISPR nucleases, molecular scissors that cut DNA. These nucleases, including Cas9, are important tools in studies of gene editing. But if commercial researchers want to use Cas9, they are faced with the high cost of licensing, and royalties on all discovered in the course of the study. With regard to academic research, they can use Cas9 without such charges, however, were limited commercialization. After commercialization they will also be encumbered as a commercial researchers.

All this means that many great ideas and innovations in the field of CRISPR is left behind.

Imagine you are a scientist, academician, who has spent years painstakingly researching cancer applications of Cas9. You achieved a breakthrough, has found a possible treatment for patients. You must decide for the benefit of medicine and the afflicted to pass the solution to pharmaceutical companies for development, clinical trials and, eventually, mass production treatment. But there it was. Currently, parties who own or use the exclusive license to use Cas9, can, in theory, to claim a share of the profits, or even block the development of a product if it competes with their own development activities.

In addition, even those who are lucky enough to have access to the CRISPR enzyme, you will need additional tools for their precise use. Scientists need accurate tools for research — reliable, scalable, low cost — so they can move progress in the promising field of CRISPR technology.

Take a look at your smartphone and compare it with all his applications and programs — with the mainframe computers of the past. The difference in the performance and availability of smartphone technology is striking when compared with the dinosaurs of technology.

Gene editing today is still at an early stage of development, like a large and clumsy mainframe in the computing field. However, CRISPR has a huge transformative potential and, like computing, can in the cortex to change the way the solutions to individual problems. To achieve this reality, more research is needed in the editing area of genes, but existing research tools are not sufficiently developed to forward-thinking biologists were able to realize the potential of CRISPR.

Biologists are asked to solve the most complex problems of humanity; but the attempt to do this without the necessary tools may not be optimal. To solve this issue, the scientific community — with the support of businesses and leaders of the technology industry — should invest time and expertise, not only in CRISPR research, but also in the development of the necessary tools for these studies.