CRISPR-Cas9 technology has recently been regarded as a useful tool in the world of biotechnology for gene editing. Researchers have claimed that it can treat various genetic diseases including cancer, sickle cell anemia, etc. Gene editing is used to alter segments of human DNA for therapy and transplantations.
CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is basically a molecule that cuts bases out of DNA strands, just like a pair of scissors. It pairs with a molecule which seeks a single sequence to alternate genes from harmful inherited diseases. By cutting out some bases of DNA can delete disease induced genes completely. But latest studies prove otherwise. Several reports according to STAT have mentioned how splitting genes from strands of DNA could increase the chances of cancer rather than cure it. When genes were edited with CRISPR, it affected unrelated genes that were not under the target area. Basically, CRISPR could unknowingly alter non-related genes which will lead to harmful consequences. This is especially alarming for human clinical trials.
Though many researchers involved with this gene editing tool are denying this, the news has reached the stock market. The stocks of 3 publicly traded companies investing in CRISPR based technology and treatments have plummeted. Crispr Therapeutics fell by 6%, Editas fell by 3% and lastly, Intellia Therapeutics fell by 5% during stock exchange announced recently.
How CRISPR could increase the risk of cancer
The editing technique activates the protein, p53 in humans during cancer treatments. So naturally, cells, where p53 is present, becomes active and tries to fix where CRISPR Cas9 has cut. This could not only slow down the efficiency of the process but also lead to an abnormal multiplication of cells that lack the specific protein. p53 is a natural tumor suppressant so in cells where it is lacking or not reacting, this may lead to malignant cancer due to abnormal cell growth.