Welcome to the future ladies and gentlemen!
Remember when the biggest technology clash was between Apple and Samsung over the design of a smart phone?
Well, Today`s big lawsuit is happening between big Universities the likes of MIT, Harvard and UC Berkley, for nothing less than the rights to use the most powerful tool the human mind has created to improve the human genome. We`re talking about the CRISPR-Cas9 system.
A simple explanation of the CRISPR-Cas9 system accessible to those of us who aren`t scientists, is that this genome modifying tool can edit genes in organisms and cells (like the ones from our body) to ensure the best genetic material not only in the present cells, but also in the future cells that will be spawned.
What makes the CRISP-cas9 better than all its predecessors, is not only the fact that it is a million times better at slicing up and introducing or deleting DNA sequences, it also comes at an incredibly low price.
For about $100 every scientist can get a CRISP-cas9 system and start altering a genome.
Furthermore, scientists working with the CRISP-Cas9 have said that “The CRISPR-Cas9 technology functions as a precise and programmable scissors.”
Enter the age of genetically improved humans, or maybe not!
This discovery could be the biggest breakthrough in medicine since the invention of antibiotics, but because it is so accessible, all medical minds agree that regulations have to be enforced, even though decades might go by before this technology will be available in hospitals.
The CRISP-cas9 system is now being tested to see if it can offer a cure to many diseases that are difficult to treat and manage. Illnesses such as HIV, Cystic Fibrosis, Autism, Muscular Dystrophy and various types of Cancer are top candidates for the CRISP-Cas9 to work its magic.
However, before setting up regulations regarding how and in what cases the CRISP-Cas9 system can be used, first we have to settle who owns this tool.
Right now, judges have handed over the patent rights to the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, but the discoverer of the system, Jennifer Doudna, works for UC Berkeley, so they are asking judges to reconsider their decision and give them the patent rights.
The patent dispute does not seem to be an easy one to solve, so we might have to wait a while to see which Institute gains the right to research and implement the system.
Still, leaving aside the fight for patent rights, scientist have agreed to a future meeting where they will discuss the way the CRISP-Cas9 system can be applied in fields like: military, pharmaceutical and agricultural.
Image Source: news.stanford
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