There is a long-standing debate on the ethical ramifications of testing medical procedures and drug treatments on animals. One side argues that nothing can replace the valuable information gathered from the testing. The other side claims that humans and animals are too different, therefore the valuable insights are not as valuable as the other side says. There are good points on both sides.
But earlier this year, researchers found a way to make animal testing more accurate to human interactions. Well, the scientists used a high-tech gene editing tool to make mice reactions more human-like with regards to chronic granulomatous disease (CGD), according to an announcement from Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News.
CGD is a form of primary immunodeficiency. This means that the body’s immune system is malfunctioning and, therefore, is unable to protect the body against infections or foreign agents. Though this is a rare disease, the people who have it still deserve to have treatments.
Because of the characteristics of certain immunodeficiency diseases, studying them and developing treatments using animal analogs has been problematic. Cue scientists and fancy technology.
Doctors are utilizing CRISPR, one of the most cutting-edge pieces of medical technology, to reprogram the genetic codes of mice to replicate the cellular activity of someone with CGD. CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. Essentially, what this technology does is go inside cells to make edits to defective parts of the genetic code.
In the case of the mice, CRISPR is being used to recreate the exact cellular makeup of the cells so that they will react in the same way that the cells of a person with chronic granulomatous disease.
With a nearly perfect analog, scientists are one step closer to finding a treatment or cure of this rare disease. Let’s hope that the development takes a step forward thanks to CRISPR.