By: Vera Ustinova
The starting point of the century was an ordinary event. 15 years ago the European company producing yoghurt starter invited a group of scientists. They had to develop a way to protect copyrights for the product of the company, which competitors stole regularly. And scientists have created such a method in the form of a biological tool that could put a brand (sign) on bacteria in the DNA of yogurt. Thus, the counterfeit is easy to track.
Then it was found out that this tool is well applicable to fish, plants, pigs, macaques, and ... humans as well. The CRISPR-Cas method was developed basing on this tool, in 2013, (special biological "scissors" that can remove a piece of code from DNA and replace it with a "patch" with certain properties). It turned out that this amazing and wonderful genome editor opened access to the treatment of many serious diseases. A breakthrough occurred in medicine, scientists edited HIV cells of DNA. They were able to "clean out" the virus from the nucleus of the cell so that it stopped making copies of itself.
In most developed countries, such an intervention in the "divine mindset is not allowed". The British government recently issued a license to the only scientific research institute to edit human genes, which is allowed only for private companies in America. The rule for all is the same - you can conduct experiments only at the embryo stage for 14 days, that is, there is a dispute. What does it mean?
Our life began with a lump of cells called soma. This lump is very similar to a person, a dog, a birch and a dinosaur. But for some reason, at some point, a dog or fish grow on this lump, but people have a human. This is due to the fact that the cells have different hereditary makings. In the very first cell there are special genes - "files", which know how to grow many copies from one cell. Different creatures have different DNA, different "gene files," a programmed set of properties. In one molecule of DNA, which can fit on the tip of a sewing needle, is encoded information for 27 trillion book pages, this is more than gigabit of information. It is impossible to believe that nature itself has created such a complex system with a unique program.
Based on the "crisper", the code of ancient DNA (the bones of the ancients) was sequenced (uncovered). It turned out that a modern human has 40% of the Neanderthal genes. According to these data, the history of mankind will soon be rewritten. Cellular engineering will allow scientists to create completely new types of cells. This discovery will give the world the opportunity to fight any disease, but at the same time its consequences are unpredictable for mankind, because they will change people. Human is a whole universe. For every 100,000 people, only one genius is born. What happens when it changes? After all, "crisper" helps to remove all genetic deficiencies in the embryo and, more surprisingly, helps to add something. And if there are errors in the editorial board? And if these errors occur not immediately, but in a generation or two?
Scientific materials of Ilya Kolmanovsky, biological science candidate, are used in this article.