All about ‘Magic Scissors’ : Power of CRISPR

CRISPR-Cas9 Gene Editing Technology
This post is all about this ‘Magic Scissors’, a new gene editing technology, known as CRISPR-Cas9 and what it can do to science and how it can impact common man’s life.

Wouldn’t it have been good if we had  ‘Magic Scissors’ that could eliminate disease, solve world hunger problem, create unlimited clean energy…..it’s no longer a future technology…..the technology is already among us. Discovery of this technology has been hailed as ‘monumental moments in the history of biomedical research’ by David Baltimore a Nobel laureate.

This post is all about this ‘Magic Scissors’, a new gene editing technology, known as CRISPR-Cas9 and what it  can do to science and how it can impact common man’s life. This Scissors  promises myriad of wonderful opportunities as well as frightening ethical challenges .

 What is this ‘Magic Scissors’

What we are, what we look like or how healthy we are , all are dependent on genetic material DNA. DNA is  like a record of instructions which tells the cell what its job is going to be. In simple way, DNA is to human cells, as codes are to computers. As codes control the functioning of computer, Genes present within  interwined DNA regulates the functions of the cell. So if there is an error in these codes or some external organism like virus attacks cells, the normal programming of cells gets affected and the cells won’t function normally. This is what leads to diseases. The best option to make the cell up and running, would be to erase or alter the corrupted codes from Genes. This is what CRISPR-Cas9 does with high precision.

Little deep into CRISPR CAS9…for curious minds

CRISPR-CAS9 Gene editing tool
The CRISPR-CAS9 system comprises of two components – Guide RNA and CAS9 endonuclease: image

CRISPR  or “Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats”  was isolated from bacterial system. The CRISPR-CAS9 system comprises of two components – Guide RNA and CAS9 endonuclease. Guide RNA can be tailor-made to perfectly match a sequence of DNA  (the mutated or corrupted DNA) and CAS9 will do slicing act with precision. So one end binds to the target gene or wrong gene,  and the other end delivers a DNA-cutting enzyme, which will remove with accuracy the wrong gene.

 

CRISPR-Cas9 Gene Editing Technology
Jennifer Doudna, a biochemist at the University of California, Berkeley demonstrated for the first time the full potential of CRISPR in 2012 : image

Jennifer Doudna, a biochemist at the University of California, Berkeley and Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in German demonstrated for the first time the full potential of CRISPR in 2012.

CRISPR, ‘The Magic Scissors’,  is worth the hype. This technology will help to fight cancer, treat Alzheimer’s and eradicate Malaria. It’s an exciting development and scientists from across the globe from different fields are gung ho about this ‘new editor’.

What could CRISPR Do ?

Time for Super Plants

Imagine we can get mangoes all around the year or can make strawberries to grow in deserts. Researchers are currently experimenting with ways to improve crop disease resistance and environmental stress tolerance using CRISPR. CRISPR would steer an era of super plants with yields higher than ever.

Let’s Treat HIV

HIV has been eluding scientists for a long time. But no longer.  In 2015, scientists used CRISPR to cut HIV cells out of living cells of patients in a laboratory – proving that it is possible. By injecting CRISPR into the rats with HIV, they were able to remove 48 per cent of the virus from the DNA of their body cells. Although the experiments are still in their infancy, it looks like CRISPR could be the ultimate solution to cure HIV and ultimately AIDS.

Could it help cure cancers?

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Could DHA be the secret to a healthy brain throughout Adult life?

But did you know that DHA is essential for Adult brain too

Include in your diet plant based DHA from Mamaearth

When someone hear the name DHA or docosahexaenoic acid, one correlates it with babies brain development. But did you know that DHA is essential for Adult brain too… We need DHA throughout all stages of life for healthy brain and mental well-being

Results published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that Healthy, young adults who took an omega 3 DHA supplement displayed significant improvements in memory and reaction times.

DHA and Adult Brain Health

DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid and it plays significant role in brain health. DHA is essential for maintaining nerve cell structure and function. It is a major structural fat in the brain and eyes and a key component of the heart. 

  • It has been found that taking in required levels of DHA can protect one from age related mental decline and also can significantly reduce risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Seniors who take high levels of DHA are 47% less likely to develop dementia and 39% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared to people with low levels of DHA.
  • DHA deficiency is linked to serious psychiatric disorders such as major depressive disorder, suicidal behavior, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia
  • Results of a Swedish cohort study suggest that DHA is positively associated with peak bone mineral density in the total body and spine in healthy, young men.

DHA is available as a supplement in two forms:

  • Fish oil capsules, which has both DHA and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
  • DHA from algae, which has no EPA

Benefits of taking plant based DHA over Fish DHA

Fish get their DHA from eating smaller fish, who get their DHA from algae. So by opting for DHA from algae we are simply cutting out the middleman. Another benefit of algal DHA is that it may contain fewer contaminants like mercury. Also it’s 100% vegetarian and does not lead to any bad taste.

My search for plant based DHA ended at Mamaearth portal

Include in your diet plant based DHA from Mamaearth

Mamaearth products are made with safe ingredients that are not known or suspected to cause human health or environmental harm. Also its FDA approved.

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Friends who live in our Gut: Gut Microbiota

Healthy adult humans each typically harbor more than 1000 species of bacteria

Most people consider microbes as germs, but truth is trillions of microbes that live in our gut execute many functional roles – aid in digestion, keep  a check on infectious agents,  boost immunity, synthesize many vitamins, play a key role in maintaining Hormone balance and Brain function.

So they are for sure our ‘Friends’

“Taking into account the major role gut microbiota plays in the normal functioning of the body and the different functions it accomplishes, experts nowadays consider it as an “organ

Quick facts about our ‘Friends’ Microbiota

  • Healthy adult humans each typically harbor more than 1000 species of bacteria 
  • Microbiota can, in total, weigh up to 2 kg
  • ‘Gut feelings’ indeed seems to be a true phrase as researchers have found connection between gut microbiome and human behavior and emotion
  • Two thirds of the gut microbiome is unique to each person, and what makes this unique is the food we eat, the air we breathe and other environmental factors.
  •  The initial composition of the gut microbiota depends on the mode of delivery: babies delivered vaginally harbour gut microbiota resembling microbial communities found in their mothers’ vaginas, whereas those born via Cesarean section apparently acquire microbes from the skin, dominated by taxa such as Propionibacterium and Staphylococcus
  • Formula fed babies have less of good microbes compared to breast fed babies, giving them a healthier edge over the other.  Gut of breastfed babies primarily consists of Bifidobacteria – considered a “friendly” bacteria that benefits the gut
  •  Infants with less diverse gut bacteria at the age of 3 months were more likely to be prone to food allergies
  • By the age of 3, microbiota becomes stable and similar to that of adults, continuing its evolution at a steadier rate throughout life
  • Researchers have found a certain strain of bacteria – Christensenellaceae minuta – that cause the animals to gain less weight, indicating the bacteria could be used to reduce or prevent obesity 
  • The predominant bacterial groups in the microbiome are gram positive Firmicutes and gram negative Bacteroidetes
  • People treated with prolonged courses of antibiotics that kill a wide spectrum of bacteria can develop life-threatening diarrhoea due to an overgrowth of Clostridium difficile

Microbiome and Disease state

Some researchers believe that up to 90 percent of all diseases can be traced in some way back to the gut and health of the microbiome : image

Each of us have a complex ecosystem of bacteria located within our gut and we call them microbiome or gut microbiota. The vast majority of the bacterial species that make up our microbiome live in our digestive systems. Some researchers believe that up to 90 percent of all diseases can be traced in some way back to the gut and health of the microbiome.  Poor gut health can contribute to leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune diseases and disorders like arthritis, dementia, heart disease, and cancer.

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