'Any time a new technology has an industry buzzing, there will always be skeptics. When it comes to scientific advancements like genetic engineering and gene editing, much of that concern relates to the long-term effects of these seemingly miraculous practices. Even if something appears to be safe right now, how can anyone be certain it won’t cause problems five, 15, or 50 years down the line? Proponents used to laugh off these concerns, but a new game-changing study clearly illustrates the cancer-causing potential of genetic editing.
Some experts have said that CRISPR-Cas9, which entails altering specific genes in cells, could help us overcome diseases like cystic fibrosis, HIV, and Alzheimer’s. It almost sounded too good to be true, which should have been the first red flag. Now, the journal Nature Medicine has printed two studies that show the treatment could trigger cancer.
One study was carried out by Novartis and involved pluripotent stem cells, while the other was carried out by Karolinska Institute and focused on retinal cells. Both of the studies in question focus on the p53 gene, which plays a role in preventing tumors by killing cells that have damaged DNA. Past research has shown that most tumors in humans cannot form when p53 is working correctly.
P53 also defends the body from the genome changes made in CRISPR-Cas9. When DNA is snipped and replaced using the procedure, p53 essentially causes the edited cells to self-destruct, which is why CRISPR fails so often. When CRISPR does work, however, it could be because the p53 in the cell doesn’t work as it should. Faulty p53 is also considered a precursor to several types of cancer.'
Read more: Genetic editing via CRISPR may cause widespread cancer, study warns
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