When you hear terms such as gene editing or CRISPR, the first thing that comes to mind is probably straight out of a sci-fi novel. However, gene technology, CRISPR for example, is very real, and at the forefront of modern medical science.
As with many new medical technologies, it may seem simple on the surface. After all, it’s just swapping around a few bits and pieces in a strand of DNA, right? Naturally, it’s not nearly that simple.
Here are a few of the basic facts on CRISPR from its history to its impact on the medicine of today.
How Was CRISPR Invented?
Though CRISPR is often used as a term for the gene editing process, it actually refers to specific strands of DNA often found in bacteria.
So, what is a CRISPR? Essentially, they’re genetic fragments– or Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats– of bacterial immune systems. Much like our own, the immune systems of these bacteria learn from infections and are able to fight off future infections much more effectively.
Because of this, CRISPRs have many potential uses in agriculture, medicine, and any other fields where genetics are relevant.
The CRISPR gene was first discovered in 1987, and seeing its unique properties, many scientists took interest. Around the year 2005, one such researcher, Francisco Mojica, first proposed that it was more or less a small-scale immune system.
Strangely enough, CRISPR’s first major use was in the dairy industry, where it enhanced the bacterial cultures used in yogurt production.
However, it would gain much more interesting uses in 2007, when Mojica’s hypothesis was proven correct. With evidence that CRISPR genes promoted adaptive immunity, medical researchers got to work, discovering that medications using CRISPR could be used to treat viral infections.
In a massive step forward for the technology, scientists Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna were awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their contributions to the development of CRISPR technology. As of today, this innovation continues, with researchers discovering new ways to implement it, curing many diseases previously thought to be incurable.
What Is CRISPR Used to Do?
In simple terms, CRISPR is used to edit genetics, quite literally altering the subject’s bodily systems on a molecular level. The implications of this are massive, opening the door for curing hereditary diseases, bolstering the immune system, and improving the quality of life as a whole.
On a more technical level, CRISPR can be programmed to attack certain genes in the genome, essentially rendering the DNA on the receiving end useless. All you have to do is point the CRISPR genes in the right direction and let them do their work!
This has been used in countless fields, creating healthier crops and livestock to ensure a steadier food supply, and now, scientists have set their sights on editing the human genome.
While there are still many tests that need to take place before the human genome can be freely edited, the potential impact on the medical world is reason enough to continue research. A cure for cancer?
Preventing pandemics before they even start? With the ability to alter the human genome, the possibilities are endless.
Costs of CRISPR Technology
Of course, seeing as CRISPR is a relatively new technology with a fairly complicated production process, it doesn’t come cheap. However, it’s a vast improvement over old gene editing techniques, both in cost and efficiency.
For example, TALENs typically run around $400, while ZFNs can be as expensive as $7,000. CRISPRs, on the other hand, is a modest $65.
With each new generation of gene editing technology, prices decrease while efficiency increases, leading to a much wider public availability. The prospect of cheap, simple, and effective gene editing technology is an extremely promising one, and in the very near future, it may be a reality.
CRISPR Lab Essentials
Because CRISPR is an extremely delicate technology, you’ll need to have proper lab facilities in order to work with it. From safety features to sterile containment areas, it’s important not to miss any details.
Precision and care are key here, so be deliberate when making your decisions. So, what exactly do you need to get your CRISPR lab up and running?
There are a few basic facilities you’ll need to ensure all your bases are covered before you open up shop.
In addition, partitions will allow you to separate certain lab areas from others, preventing cross-contamination and the escape of hazardous chemicals into the rest of the lab.
Second, technology for the research itself. Seeing as you’ll be dealing with bacteria, the vast majority of research will be invisible to the naked eye.
As such, you’ll need microscopes to view the bacteria properly, as well as lab tables to mount these microscopes on. Anti-vibration tables or microscope tables are ideal options to have to help to prevent potential mishaps during research.
Of course, no lab is complete without the proper lab casework! When it comes to cabinets for the lab, you have a number of options available, so consider your needs when making your decision.
For more general purposes, stainless steel cabinets should do the trick, but seeing as you’ll be dealing with bacteria, antimicrobial casework may come in handy when preventing contamination and is generally very durable.
As for contained areas, however, you’ll probably want specialized cleanroom casework. Containment is of the utmost importance in a cleanroom, allowing for a completely sterile environment in which research can be conducted.
Cutting any corners here presents a high risk for contamination of bacterial samples, making your work far less efficient. As such, it’s best to be thorough early in the process so you won’t have to worry about it in the future.
Need Helping Designing a Lab for CRISPR Research?
When you’re looking for high-quality lab facilities, it’s important to have a high-quality provider. Fortunately, you have OnePointe Solutions in your corner.
At OnePointe Solutions quality and safety are our top priorities, so you can rest assured that your new lab is in good hands. We provide just about anything your lab could need, whether that’s lab tables, custom workbenches, laboratory casework, or safety features.
We work to make lab design quick and easy, while also building facilities that will last for years to come. When designing your lab, you shouldn’t have to settle for anything less than the best, and when you work with OnePointe, you won’t have to!