DNA and CRISPR
From time to time, I try to do some research about things that I really know little about or would like to know more. This is true in the case of the development of vaccines throughout history and the more recent vaccines that have become available. This blog is not taking a position on any of them, but helping my readers to know a few facts. The rest will be up to your research.
The Acronym CRISPER (pronounced “crisper”) stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, which are the hallmark of a bacterial defense system that forms the basis for CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology. (from Broad Institute)
CRISPR is a family of DNA sequences found in the genomes of prokaryotic organisms such as bacteria and archaea. These sequences are derived from DNA fragments of bacteriophages that had previously infected the prokaryote. They are used to detect and destroy DNA from similar bacteriophages during subsequent infections. (from Wikipedia)
Some of the scientists and developers of CRISPR, among others, are: (From Wikipedia)
- Jennifer Doredna…is an American biochemist known for her pioneering work in CRISPR gene editing, for which she was awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Emmanuelle Charpentier. Education: Harvard University
- Emmanuelle Marie Charpentier … a French professor and researcher in microbiology, genetics and biochemistry. Since 2015, she has been a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin. In 2018, she founded an independent research institute, the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens. Education: Pasteur Institute
- Feng Zhang … a Chinese-American biochemist. Zhang currently holds the James and Patricia Poitras Professorship in Neuroscience at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and in the departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Education: Stanford University
- George McDonald Church … an American geneticist, molecular engineer, and chemist. He is the Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard and MIT, and a founding member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. Education: Harvard
- Virginijus Šikšnys … a Lithuanian biochemist. Education Moscow State University
SOME HISTORY ABOUT VACCINE DEVELOPMENT
Modern vaccine history began in the late 18th century with the discovery of smallpox immunization by Edward Jenner. This pivotal step led to substantial progress in prevention of infectious diseases with inactivated vaccines for multiple infectious diseases, including typhoid, plague and cholera.
Each advance produced significant decreases in infection-associated morbidity and mortality, thus shaping our modem cultures. As knowledge of microbiology and immunology grew through the 20th century, techniques were developed for cell culture of viruses. This allowed for rapid advances…
Finally, recent research has led to development of alternative vaccine strategies through use of vectored antigens, pathogen subunits (purified proteins or polysaccharides) or genetically engineered antigens. ( Antigens are molecules capable of stimulating an immune response. Each antigen has distinct surface features, or epitopes, resulting in specific responses.) As the science of vaccinology continues to rapidly evolve, knowledge of the past creates added emphasis on the importance of developing safe and effective strategies for infectious disease prevention in the 21st century. (abstract by Jennifer Hsu)
HOW DOES GENE EDITING WORK?
“…Beyond applications encompassing bacterial immune defenses, scientists have learned how to harness CRISPR technology in the lab to make precise changes in the genes of organisms as diverse as fruit flies, fish, mice, plants and even human cells.
Genes are defined by their specific sequences, which provide instructions on how to build and maintain an organism’s cells. A change in the sequence of even one gene can significantly affect the biology of the cell and in turn may affect the health of an organism. CRISPR techniques allow scientists to modify specific genes while sparing all others, thus clarifying the association between a given gene and its consequence to the organism.
Rather than relying on bacteria to generate CRISPR RNAs, scientists first design and synthesize short RNA molecules that match a specific DNA sequence—for example, in a human cell.
Then, like in the targeting step of the bacterial system, this ‘guide RNA’ shuttles molecular machinery to the intended DNA target. Once localized to the DNA region of interest, the molecular machinery can silence a gene or even change the sequence of a gene…” (chart and explanation taken from Harvard Medical website)
Author’s Note: We are eternally grateful for the scientific knowledge that men and women of the past, who labored to bring good health to the world…wiping out many diseases that brought devastation to so many.
I can remember going to school with a young girl who had polio. Her every effort was to walk. There were also the oxygen tanks that people were confined to because of their difficulty in breathing. Many diseases have been wiped out around the world thanks to doctors and scientists like Dr. Jonas Salk.
March 26, 1953, American medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk announces on a national radio show that he has successfully tested a vaccine against poliomyelitis, the virus that causes the crippling disease of polio. In 1952—an epidemic year for polio—there were 58,000 new cases reported in the United States, and more than 3,000 died from the disease. For promising eventually to eradicate the disease, which is known as “infant paralysis” because it mainly affects children, Dr. Salk was celebrated as the great doctor-benefactor of his time. (History channel)
The concerns some are having, at this point in history, is how our present-day vaccines will effect the future generations. Through various medical procedures, our DNA, which is unique to each of us, could be changed or manipulated without our permission to do so.
We need to know where our scientific community is headed today and how it will effect the population of the world… specifically for our own family. We need to know if any moral understanding is part of their scientific efforts, which might not be openly discussed or revealed. Even if it were, would our media dismiss it as some kind of “conspiracy theory” against present and future medical pursuits?
Again the question is: Can we completely rely on the scientific communities to give us the straight answers to the benefits and dangers of certain vaccines? Will government force upon the masses requirements that do away with personal choice? Will our young people, in educational settings, have true facts when discussing topics like “genetic editing, designer babies, eliminating the stages of aging” and more? All of these are very real concerns to many people.
I would highly recommend that you, as a reader, do your own research into all that has been written on these subjects. What we actually know is probably only the tip of the iceberg and our future generations will be the recipients of all that is promoted and brought into our present age.
God has given us intelligence and the ability to research the scientific elements of the world, but when will we know if we are reaching too far and have begun to “play God” when it comes to life?
GOD GRANT US and the scientists THE WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5
A short video on Gene Editing/CRISPR…pros and cons…and ethical and moral considerations: