Submissions/ Competition






The Effects of the Invention of CRISPR/Cas9 Genome Editing Technology



Ying-Chu Shih

National Chengchi University

501019001: Writing & Reading II

Professor Yi-Chun Liu

January 10, 2024



The effects of the invention of CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology


  Humans have been combating diseases for thousands of years. Among all the diseases humans have encountered, those derived from genetic mutation, such as Thalassemia, Leukemia, and various Malignant Tumors, are one of the trickiest. The reason is that to keep the human body functioning normally, DNA directs cells to produce the human body’s necessities. However, if a mutation occurs in crucial parts of the DNA, the operation of cell manufacturing will deviate and cause genetic diseases. Not similar to a normal sickness, medicine can only control genetic mutation diseases instead of curing them. Therefore, for the past few decades, scientists have attempted to cure them with genome editing technology, which is to correct the blueprint of life by modifying DNA (Ou & Huang, 2019). In 2012, the research greeted its grand breakthrough when the invention of CRISPR/Cas9 was revealed to the world. CRISPR/Cas9, often described as genetic scissors, sheds light on numerous research realms for its ability to cut a specific piece of gene easily and precisely. The ascertainment and utilization of CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology has predominantly reshaped the landscape of genome editing. The present essay will discuss the effects of genome editing technology on how it efficiently improves the original method, how it brings promising futures to numerous application realms, and how it raises ethical and regulatory concerns.

  The advent of CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology marks a pivotal advancement in genetic engineering, significantly enhancing the efficiency of the original genome editing method by streamlining processes, accelerating procedures, and substantially reducing costs. Throne (2021) states that CRISPR is not the first genome editing system being invented; however, its characteristics make it the most available and extensible. To understand its advancement, we need to explore the mechanism of genome editing first. The goal of genome editing is to create a double-strand break at the specific site where we want to alter. Then, the completion of the modification depends on the activation of endogenous DNA repair pathways to eliminate or replace the particular gene (Throne, 2021). Before the CRISPR/Cas system emerged, zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs) and transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) dominated the genome editing realm. These two technologies both depend on guiding proteins to lead the cutting tools to the target genomic location in the DNA sequence (Ran et al., 2013). As for the CRISPR/Cas9 system, it is directed by tiny pieces of RNAs, which is much easier and cheaper to design and produce in a laboratory compared to protein engineering. Thus, CRISPR/Cas9 is a perfect fit for “high-throughput and multiplexed gene editing” (Ran et al., 2013) due to its low cost and high efficiency. In essence, the evolution from ZFNs and TALENs to the CRISPR/Cas9 system represents not just a shift in technological approach, but a seismic leap toward a more accessible, efficient, and cost-effective era in genome editing

  With the conspicuous improvement, CRISPR/Cas9 has ushered in a new era of promising possibilities across transformative applications, particularly in the fields of medicine and agriculture, where its potential to address and solve complex challenges hopefully leads to groundbreaking advancements. In the realm of medicine, CRISPR/Cas9 holds the key to targeted gene therapy, offering the prospect of curing genetic diseases that were once considered incurable. The precision and efficiency of this technology enable scientists to edit specific genes, potentially eradicating hereditary conditions at their roots. Moreover, the adaptability of CRISPR/Cas9 in agriculture presents an opportunity to revolutionize crop breeding and enhance food security. By precisely modifying the genes responsible for crop traits such as resistance to pests and diseases or tolerance to environmental stress, CRISPR/Cas9 offers a more efficient and targeted approach compared to traditional breeding methods.

  While CRISPR/Cas9 has undeniably revolutionized the genome editing field, its unprecedented capabilities have sparked a parallel discourse on ethical and regulatory dimensions, unveiling concerns over the boundary of the application and prompting crucial considerations for future governance. As researchers explore the vast potential of CRISPR/Cas9 in diverse applications, ranging from medical breakthroughs to agricultural innovations, the ethical boundaries of its application come under scrutiny. Discussions on the responsible use of this powerful tool are becoming increasingly imperative, with concerns arising over issues such as the potential for unintended consequences, the lack of proper regulation, and the ethical considerations of germline editing. Research aims to reveal the public’s and the professionals’ attitudes toward the issues. The one carried out by Persaud et al. (2018) focuses on the opinions of people who are stakeholders within the sickle cell disease (SDC), an inherited blood disorder, community. Since they are one of the first groups who may benefit from or be affected by CRISPR/Cas9, the research tries to examine their attitudes and thoughts so that we can learn more about their expectations and worries. They applied a hybridized approach in several cities in the U.S. that consisted of an instructional video tool, a survey, and 15 group investigations. As a result, the research shows that a large proportion of people who took part in the experiment showed positive feelings towards the new possibility. However, their concerns were that since they only knew a little about the genome editing technology, they were afraid of risking their lives and being treated as experimental objects. On the other hand, in the research conducted by Taguchi et al. (2019), they try to analyze the attitudes towards CRISPR/ possessed by professionals in Japan. They surveyed with a questionnaire to investigate Japanese clinical geneticists and certified genetic counselors. The survey focuses on the participants’ attitudes toward CRISPR/Cas9’s future development. The result shows that the majority of the two groups of professionals are both concerned about the wrong application of the technology because of deficient information, and the lack of regulation. They agree that to keep CRISPR/Cas9’s future straight, proper regulations, education, and clinical protocols are needed to be constructed. To conclude the two studies, it is clear that in order to lower the ethical concerns about CRISPR/Cas9, we need more revelation of the correct information and more active communication between professionals, governors, and the general public so that trust and mutual consensus be built to support the further development of this revolutionized genome editing technology.

  In conclusion, CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology represents a groundbreaking advancement, revolutionizing the landscape of genetic engineering with its unparalleled efficiency. Its transformative applications in medicine and agriculture offer unprecedented possibilities, from curing once-incurable genetic diseases to revolutionizing crop breeding for enhanced food security. However, this revolutionary potential is accompanied by ethical and regulatory concerns, necessitating transparent communication and education. Studies reveal positive public attitudes tempered by concerns about limited knowledge, while professionals emphasize the need for regulations and education. Balancing the promise of CRISPR/Cas9 with ethical considerations requires continued dialogue, trust-building, and informed governance to navigate the ethical complexities of this transformative technology.



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