Francisco Mojica: "Genetic issue can be accepted, as happened with artificial insemination or insulin" [ENTREVISTA]


DNA structure. / Wikimedia Commons

The red scientific term comes from documents or magazines for disclosure, that they go for bars and family dinners. However, despite its consensus, CRISPR achieved this. And this is no less, this is a tool that opens the door to genetic regulation, an opportunity that almost intimidates and fascinates us.

The word is an acronym Clustered regularly intertwined short palindromic repetitions (in Spanish they merge and regularly extend the short palindromic repetitions) and refer to the region of the DNA of prokaryotes (bacteria and archea) ", which are repeated repeatedly very unusually and come from bacteria, viruses or materials, the genetic attacker who infected the ancestor and is stored in memory to fight it, "explains Francisco Mojica, a microbiologist at the University of Alicante (Spain), one of the parents of this creature and the person responsible for baptism with this name. "In order to destroy it, they use some proteins, a few scissors, run by previous information collected by their ancestors into the DNA of an invasive virus and interrupted." This is the basis of a revolutionary technique developed by researchers Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudn in 2012 to regulate the DNA of every living being.

If there has been more social debate about this technique lately, because Chinese researcher He Jiankui (without any evidence so far) used this to create the first genetically modified infants immune to HIV, generosity and cholera. The scientific community, including its creator, has shown a unified rejection of gene manipulation of human embryos. But the debate on the street serves.

Francisco Mojica. University of Alicante

For several years, Mojica has been a favorite for the Nobel Prize Awards, although she says this award would be "more problematic". With this modesty, the scientist answered N + 1 questions. In this interview, he patiently explains the importance of this news and where the CRISPR investigation is taking place.

Question: If it was confirmed that two Chinese girls were born genetically, what would be the consequences?

Answer: It has a big impact at the social level. Since 2013, some scientists knew that what happened could happen, so it was trying to discuss the issue of genetic regulation not only in the scientific field, but also in the society, making decisions and adopting laws to adapt them to new times. And it seemed to be a big boost. It was said: "The wolf is coming, the wolf is coming" because he is already here: in principle, there was every state of the man with whom we knew what his genetic determinants could change, and we are talking about, for example, the growing memory

Q: Is there a negative impact on the health of these girls?

A: The author says no, but most professional geneticists say that. Technology is not yet mature. This can lead to what is called a mosaic, that is, various modifications in different cells. One part of the body would be altered in the same way and otherwise in a different way. This mixture in the individual would have far more dramatic consequences, as it is impossible to predict what will happen.

Some of these girls or both could develop problems as they are more susceptible to influenza or other consequences that we do not know. According to previous experiments carried out on animals and that in one of the girls only one gene of one parent was changed and not from another, this could mean that they are still susceptible to the infection of the AIDS virus. It is possible that nothing has been achieved.

Now it can happen that the fear that he has created triggers a reaction that blocks research, which I think should not happen: one thing is research and another use of this research to treat the disease. The application must be carried out when research gives you a minimum risk or benefit that goes well beyond that risk.

Q: What types of investigations are currently under way with this technique?

A: In clinical trials carried out as God sends, are followed by regulations, they are informed about what is achieved, obtains all necessary permits and all necessary safety measures. For example, how to fight cancer with immunotherapy. It involves the secretion of blood cells, in particular D-lymphocytes, from the tumor and their alteration, so that when they return to the patient, tumor cells are destroyed. It is also used for other blood diseases, for example, haemophilia.

In relation to embryo research, the reasons for the embryo rejection in artificial insemination and its development and the treatment of diseases such as haemophilia or hypertrophic cardiac disease are examined. The immediate purpose of these investigations is to know the consequences of these changes and their effectiveness and decide in the future whether this could solve the genetic problems inherited by parents.

Q: What are the main problems posed by CRISPR?

A: The attack on DNA of live cells by cutting with CRISPR activates the repair system for this damage, because if the cell is not repaired, it dies. These repairs can be done in various ways, one of them is to have a bar and break it and link it to the glue is not complete, but with the remainder: the cell tries to fix it desperately and produces random changes in the region where the reduction has occurred.

Another more complicated mechanism is the one used for editing: besides giving it a cell scissors and you get a piece of DNA that matches the area where it will be cut, but will not match 100%, but additional information is added. Then the cell is corrected using the information about the mold to which it was given, so the information about each region of the genome can be deliberately changed.

Another option for this technique is changing, not the DNA, where the wrong information is located, but the RNA that is the one that transmits this information.

Q: What is RNA modification? Are we talking about the future of CRISPR?

A: These are the ones who know what is being said. There are no permanent changes in RNA in the cell. Although there is a DNA issue, it would, in principle, be sufficient with once-in-a-lifetime application with RNA no. The transmitter changes so that it does not report the bad news: you say "RNA, although the DNA told you this, no, you have to say that".

This is a great edition because it does not require cutting or repairing DNA. If there is A there [adenina, uno de los cuatro componentes del ADN junto a citocina, guanina y timina] and you do not like A because it causes a disease, and it is known to resolve it with a change in C (cytokine), and this technique can be done. For the time being, it has already been used in animal studies to determine whether it is capable of alleviating some of the effects of the disease and has worked.

Q: Are we on the way to superior race people?

A: We do not know where it will come from. History has already taught us that social opinion is radically changing and sometimes in a very short time. When genetic engineering emerged in the 1970s, the "recombinant DNA technology" that was called up said: "You can cut, paste, reorganize genetic information from living beings, what a monstrosity!" And now this is something that day labor in laboratories, or when it was suggested that human bacteria be put into the making of insulin, it initially created a refusal and it looks so normal, and if it were not, many people would no longer be able to enjoy in life or less healthy over a long period of time. There are other examples, such as artificial insemination.

Something like that can happen with this. We are scared that a person can be attributed to letters, but what will certainly be very well received is to cure diseases. When using CRISPR as a therapeutic agent in adult patients, I do not think that nobody poses any negatives.

Q: You said a lot that you do not care about Nobel. Does the consequence of what is (allegedly) happening in China move away from such recognition?

A: Well, I would take care if you would give it to me (laughter). CRISPR allows you to do things that previously could not have been dreamed of as possible, there are so many doors that have opened this knowledge of the functioning of the immune system of bacteria that I understand that it deserves.

Do not think that people can do it damage, like this researcher, they take credit. Progress has been made in life and health sciences in recent years, as progress has not been achieved in fifty or a hundred years, I would say. The benefit is very large. I am convinced that CRISPR will receive the Nobel Prize regardless of who gives it. I do not know when, maybe in twenty years. Although, if you do not take it, nothing happens, but surely there are other fields that they also earn, so what's the difference?

Beatriz de Vera

This news was originally published in N + 1, a science to be added.

O N + 1: This is the first online scientific and technological dissemination magazine that allows full or partial reproduction of its content through communication, blogs and influences, mentioning the text and the link to the web: "This news was originally published in a magazine N + 1, a science that adds: ".


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