Date of Award

Spring 4-29-2017

Degree Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Molecular Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Pamela J Langer

Abstract

Four decades ago, the advent of technology that could be applied to genetic engineering stimulated the hope that one day we would be able to ‘fix’ genetic disorders or inhibit cancer growth by replacing defective genes or introducing helpful genes into a person’s genome. That hope was followed by frustration with the limitations of the technology until the recent development of a new strategy used in the CRISPR/Cas9 system, which is considered one of the most important developments in the field of genome modification to date. CRISPR technology can be used both for genome modification and post-transcriptional editing through RNA editing. Envisioned applications of the CRISPR system range from basic research on cancer and the study of essential genes to treatment of genetic diseases and cancer. However rather than a panacea for the treatment of intractable medical problems, the technology has presented potential negative consequences. Scientists have called a moratorium on the use of CRISPR technology until it was better understood. Furthermore, policy makers have preemptively banned the use of CRISPR in human systems. In spite of these fears, China has moved forward on studying CRISPR in human embryos anyway, though esteemed journals such as Nature, Science, and others, will not publish their studies due to ethical concerns. This literature review will describe the mechanics of the CRISPR technology in DNA modification and RNA editing, some of the current research applications and challenges, and finally, potential human applications and the need for regulatory oversight.

Share

COinS