Biotechnology and Xenotransplantation Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) refers to a family of genes similar in DNA sequences (Mittal, 2018). CRISPR sequences are mostly found in prokaryotic organisms like archaea and bacteria.
The chains are derived from the DNA of viruses that have infected the prokaryote. The sequences are vital to the immune systems of the prokaryote. Cas9 (an enzyme) identifies and cleaves DNA strands that match a particular CRISPR sequence. The CRISPR-Cas9 technology manipulates Cas9 ability to identify CRISPR DNA sequence to edit genomes. The CRISPR-Cas9 technology employs addition, removing and altering some sections of a DNA sequence. It is simple and precise in the genetic modification which makes it appropriate to use in xenotransplantation. The primary challenge in xenotransplantation has been the rejection of the organs by the recipient’s immune system. The application of the CRISPR technology allows scientists to develop organs from other animals that can mimic the RNA sequences of the recipient. The developed RNA only binds to the targeted region of the genes. The Cas9 used can track the location of the RNA where it cuts the DNA strand across. The recipient’s body then tries to repair the damaged region. The repair mechanism is then used by scientists to cause the change in particular or multiple genes in the target tissue.
Biotechnology and Xenotransplantation Research Team
According to George Church and a team of researchers from Harvard University, the CRISPR-Cas9 technology enables researchers to make many changes at the same time to inactivate the virus that has remained in pig genes (Marcus, 2016). The technology has therefore been used by scientists to develop a breed of pigs whose immune system does not reject human organs. The primary challenge that the researchers face at the moment is matching genotype sequences to make retroviruses inactive to allow transplants. The selection of pigs is inspired by the fact that pig organs such as kidneys are relatively close to those of human beings regarding attributes such as weight. The ability of the Caspr-Cas9 to enable scientists to rear genetically modified pigs from which human beings can get organs through transplants. Hypothetically, according to researchers such as Dr Tector of the University of Alabama, the technology will be a reliable source of organs that are currently inadequate for the available patients.
CRISPR-Cas9 causes a special kind of mutation that prevents the recipient’s body from destroying the foreign organs introduced. Early experiments of offering human beings organs from animals failed because the researchers at that time did not develop a mechanism of preventing rejection of the organs by the non-human primates on which they conducted the experiments (Mittal, 2018). The technology also eliminates the need for patients who receive organs from animals from taking drugs to suppress their immune systems since this makes them vulnerable to many illnesses. The critical concern before the experiment can be authorised to be conducted on human beings is to ensure that scientists are aware of all the retroviruses that exist to avoid unforeseen cases of rejection that may lead to severe losses such as the death of the patients. The uncertainty of the consequences of applying the method in planting animal organs on human beings limits the technology to terminally-ill patients who have no other alternativE
Biotechnology and Xenotransplantation References
Mittal, R. D. (2018). Gene Editing in Clinical Practice.
Marcus, Amy Dockser. (2016, December 1). Genetically Modified Pigs Could Ease Organ Shortage. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/potent-fix-for-transplant-shortage-genetically-modified-pigs-1480604400
What is CRISPR-Cas9? (2017, February 17). Retrieved from https://www.yourgenome.org/facts/what-is-crispr-cas9