stem cells
Regenerative Medicine

The Future of Regenerative Medicine

I would like to present a series of blogs that will address the future of Regenerative Medicine. I found the above picture and found it fascinating. It brought memories as to when I was a child. I grew up watching the Three Stooges on TV. Above we see the stooges looking at the eight-ball trying to tell the future. Well hopefully I can do a better job than the stooges as far as Regenerative medicine is concerned

The first topic I would like to address is what is known as Crispr. This is not to be confused with the section of your refrigerator that keeps salads and leafy vegetables fresh. We now have technology available that will hopefully change the face of medicine and potentially other aspects of our daily lives. Crisper technology will have far reaching effects in our lives. It can help us make bio fuels, eliminate cancer and other debilitating diseases, and possibly slow down or reverse aging. Until Crispr came along, biologists lacked the tools to force specific genetic changes across an entire population. But the system, which is essentially a molecular scalpel, makes it possible to alter or delete any sequence in a genome of billions of nucleotides. By placing it in an organism’s DNA, scientists can insure that the new gene will copy itself in every successive generation.
This gene-editing technique called Crispr-Cas9. This is a powerful new tool to control what genes get expressed in plants, animals, and even humans. The ability to delete undesirable traits and, potentially, add desirable traits with more precision than ever before. Until now, researchers had the tools to genetically manipulate only a small selection of animals, and the process was often inefficient and laborious. The following is a complicated diagram of this concept.
With the arrival of CRISPR, we can alter the genes of a wide range of organisms with relative precision and ease. In the past two years alone, the prospect of gene-edited monkeys, mammoths, mosquitoes and more have made headlines as scientists attempt to put CRISPR to use for applications as varied as agriculture, drug production and bringing back lost species. This seems to remind us of the movie Jurassic Park.
Interestingly, if we want to understand CRISPR, we should go back to 1987, when Japanese scientists studying the bacteria E. coli first came across some unusual repeating sequences in the bacteria’s DNA. Over time, other researchers found similar clusters in the DNA of other bacteria. They gave these sequences a name: Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats — or CRISPR. Yet these CRISPR sequences were mostly a mystery until 2007. In 2007, food scientists studying the streptococcus bacteria used to make yogurt showed how these odd clusters actually served a vital function a living organism. They’re part of the bacteria’s immune system. In the past five years, scientists have figured out how to exploit a quirk in the immune systems of bacteria to edit genes in other organisms — plant genes, mouse genes, even human genes.
With CRISPR, they can now make these edits quickly and cheaply, in days rather than weeks or months. There are multiple gene-editing “tools,” but CRISPR is by far the most cost-effective and precise. It works by injecting a DNA construct with three major components into the Cas9 to the correct location to cut, and a new DNA template to repair the cut with. It works by injecting a DNA construct with three major components into a living organism. The components are the Cas9 enzyme that cuts or deletes a segment of DNA, a sequence of RNA that guides the Cas9 to the correct location to cut, and a new DNA template to repair the cut with. What we are able to do is eliminate the possible genetic problems that arose by a random chance. The possibilities of what can be accomplished by Crispr are almost endless. Think of a world where Alzheimer’s is a forgotten scourge that at one time robbed people of their lives. Again, we can use this technology to improve food crops, produce supplies of energy, eliminate much of the worlds suffering. Pesticides will be a footnote in history since food crops will be genetically resistant to pests.
We need to also remember that there is both good and bad that can be accomplished with Crispr. There is no question that we will make dramatic improvements with Crispr technology. There is also the potential that we might encounter some major unforeseen problems. There is a possibility of creating a new super bacterium that can ravage the entire human population. There is the potential of making the bacterium a weapon of mass destruction. Do we want to make a super human race where intelligence is fostered? These are all questions that will arise in the not too distant future. We must approach Crispr technology with an approving eye since it may be the next quantum leap for mankind. But at the same time, we need also display some trepidation of what we may create. One example I will give is nuclear power. The devil was in the details. Give it some thought. Thanks Dr. P





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