CRISPR is a revolutionary gene-editing tool

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DNA - Genomics
DNA - Genomics
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Azadi Ka Amrit Mahoutsav

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The future of cures is largely going to depend on Genetics and Gene Editing for diseases and deformities in Living beings. Let’s see how CRISPR gene Editing can change our world.

CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is a revolutionary gene-editing tool that allows scientists to make precise changes to an organism’s DNA. The CRISPR system is based on a naturally occurring defense mechanism found in bacteria.

Here’s a simplified explanation of the CRISPR genetic engineering process:

  1. Identification: Scientists identify the specific gene they want to target for modification. This could be a gene associated with a disease, a trait they want to enhance, or a gene they want to study.
  2. Designing the CRISPR system: The CRISPR system consists of two main components: the CRISPR-associated protein (Cas) and a guide RNA (gRNA). The gRNA is designed to be complementary to the DNA sequence of the target gene. When combined with the Cas protein, it forms a complex that can locate and bind to the target DNA.
  3. Targeting the DNA: The Cas-gRNA complex is introduced into the cells of the organism. It searches the genome for the specific DNA sequence matching the gRNA.
  4. DNA Cleavage: Once the target DNA sequence is located, the Cas protein acts as molecular scissors, cutting the DNA at the desired location. This creates a break in the DNA strand.
  5. Repairing the DNA: When DNA is damaged, cells have repair mechanisms to fix it. There are two main repair pathways: Non-Homologous End Joining (NHEJ) and Homology Directed Repair (HDR).
  • NHEJ is error-prone and often results in small insertions or deletions (indels) at the site of the DNA break. This can disrupt the function of the target gene.
  • HDR is more precise and uses a template DNA molecule to guide the repair process. Scientists can introduce a template DNA with desired changes, allowing for precise gene editing.
  1. Expression of the modified gene: Once the DNA is repaired, the modified gene can be expressed by the cell, leading to the desired changes in the organism.

CRISPR technology has revolutionized genetic engineering due to its precision, efficiency, and versatility. It has a wide range of applications, including basic research, agriculture, medicine, and biotechnology. However, ethical considerations surrounding its use, such as potential off-target effects and unintended consequences, continue to be a topic of debate.

To become proficient in CRISPR technology, you would typically pursue studies in molecular biology, genetics, biotechnology, or a related field. Here are some specific areas of study and qualifications you might consider:

  1. Undergraduate Degree: Begin by earning a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as biology, biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, or biotechnology. During your undergraduate studies, focus on courses that cover genetics, molecular biology techniques, cell biology, and biochemistry.
  2. Graduate Studies: Consider pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree in molecular biology, genetics, biotechnology, or a related discipline. These advanced degrees will provide you with a deeper understanding of the principles and applications of CRISPR technology. Look for programs that offer coursework or research opportunities specifically focused on genome editing techniques like CRISPR.
  3. Research Experience: Gain hands-on experience in a laboratory setting through internships, research assistant positions, or undergraduate research projects. Working in a lab that specializes in genome editing or molecular genetics will give you practical skills and exposure to CRISPR technology.
  4. Specialized Training Programs: Look for workshops, short courses, or specialized training programs that specifically focus on CRISPR technology. These programs may be offered by academic institutions, research organizations, or biotechnology companies and can provide intensive training in CRISPR experimental design, techniques, and applications.
  5. Online Courses and Resources: Take advantage of online courses, webinars, and resources that cover CRISPR technology. Many universities and organizations offer online courses and educational materials on CRISPR and genome editing, which can be a convenient way to supplement your formal education and stay updated on the latest advancements in the field.
  6. Professional Conferences and Workshops: Attend conferences, workshops, and seminars related to molecular biology, genetics, and biotechnology, where CRISPR technology is likely to be a topic of discussion. These events provide opportunities to learn from experts in the field, network with other researchers, and stay informed about emerging trends and developments in CRISPR research.

By combining formal education, hands-on experience, specialized training, and continuous learning through resources and professional events, you can build a strong foundation in CRISPR technology and become qualified to work in this exciting and rapidly evolving field.

Several universities around the world are renowned for their contributions to CRISPR research and offer excellent programs for studying this technology. Here are some of the top universities known for their expertise in CRISPR:

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA: MIT is a leader in biotechnology and molecular biology research, with several faculty members actively involved in CRISPR research. The Department of Biology and the Broad Institute, affiliated with MIT, are particularly notable for their CRISPR-related work.
  2. University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), USA: UC Berkeley is where the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology was first developed by Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier. The Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI) at UC Berkeley continues to be a hub for CRISPR research and innovation.
  3. Harvard University, USA: Harvard has a strong reputation in genetics and molecular biology and is home to the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, which conducts cutting-edge research in synthetic biology and genome editing, including CRISPR.
  4. Stanford University, USA: Stanford is known for its interdisciplinary approach to research, and its Department of Bioengineering is actively engaged in CRISPR-related projects. The university collaborates closely with neighboring institutions like UC Berkeley on CRISPR research.
  5. University of Oxford, UK: Oxford is a leading institution in life sciences research, and its Department of Biochemistry and Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics are involved in CRISPR research aimed at understanding genetic diseases and developing therapeutic applications.
  6. University of Cambridge, UK: Cambridge is another prestigious institution with a strong focus on molecular biology and genetics. Its Wellcome Sanger Institute and Gurdon Institute are engaged in CRISPR research to study developmental biology, disease mechanisms, and genome engineering.
  7. University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), USA: UCSF is known for its expertise in biomedical research, and its Center for Advanced Technology is involved in developing and applying CRISPR-based technologies for studying gene function and disease mechanisms.
  8. ETH Zurich, Switzerland: ETH Zurich is a leading institution in engineering and technology research, and its Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering conducts innovative research in synthetic biology, including CRISPR-based genome editing.
  9. University of Tokyo, Japan: The University of Tokyo is one of Japan’s premier research universities, and its Institute of Medical Science and Department of Biotechnology are engaged in CRISPR research for applications in medicine and agriculture.
  10. Peking University, China: Peking University is a top academic institution in China, and its Center for Life Sciences conducts research in genetics and molecular biology, including CRISPR-based genome editing technologies.

These universities offer a range of undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate programs in biology, genetics, biotechnology, and related fields, providing opportunities for students to study CRISPR technology under leading experts in the field.

Do we have scope to study CRISPR in India?

Yes, there are several Indian universities and research institutions actively involved in CRISPR research and offering programs related to genetic engineering and molecular biology. While India may not have as many institutions globally recognized for CRISPR research as some of the universities I previously mentioned, there are still notable institutions making significant contributions to the field. Here are a few:

  1. Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore: IISc is one of India’s premier research institutions, known for its excellence in science and engineering. Its Department of Molecular Reproduction, Development, and Genetics conducts research in genetics, molecular biology, and genomics, with a focus on CRISPR technology.
  2. National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore: NCBS is a leading research center under the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) that focuses on biological research. NCBS researchers are engaged in CRISPR-based studies to understand fundamental biological processes and develop applications for biotechnology.
  3. Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad: CCMB is a research organization under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) dedicated to cellular and molecular biology research. CCMB scientists are actively involved in genome editing research, including CRISPR, for applications in agriculture, healthcare, and biotechnology.
  4. Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi: IGIB is another CSIR laboratory specializing in genomics and integrative biology research. Researchers at IGIB utilize CRISPR technology for various applications, including studying genetic diseases, agricultural biotechnology, and drug discovery.
  5. Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay: IIT Bombay has departments and research centers focused on biosciences and bioengineering, where researchers work on cutting-edge technologies like CRISPR for applications in healthcare, agriculture, and environmental science.
  6. National Institute of Immunology (NII), Delhi: NII is an autonomous research institution under the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, focused on immunology and related areas. NII researchers use CRISPR technology to study immune system function, infectious diseases, and cancer immunotherapy.

These institutions offer opportunities for students to pursue graduate and postgraduate studies, as well as research positions, in molecular biology, genetics, biotechnology, and related disciplines with a focus on CRISPR technology. Additionally, collaborative efforts with international institutions and participation in global research networks contribute to India’s involvement in CRISPR research and development.

About Post Author

Editor Desk

Antara Tripathy M.Sc., B.Ed. by qualification and bring 15 years of media reporting experience.. Coverred many illustarted events like, G20, ICC,MCCI,British High Commission, Bangladesh etc. She took over from the founder Editor of IBG NEWS Suman Munshi (15/Mar/2012- 09/Aug/2018 and October 2020 to 13 June 2023).
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