News ID: 216499
Published: 0406 GMT June 11, 2018

Iranian researchers close to clinical phase of CRISPR genome editing technique

Iranian researchers close to clinical phase  of CRISPR genome editing technique

By Sadeq Dehqan & Zahra A’rabi

CRISPR genome editing technique has turned out to become one of the most promising methods in biomedical field in recent years. It can help cure genetic diseases particularly different types of cancers.

CRISPR is a new technology in genome editing which can help a lot in the development of gene therapy.

So far, gene therapy has been mainly performed through gene transfer technique, in a way that a virus transfers a normal version of the genome to cell and it can help replace the defective genome that caused the disease.

However, in CRISPR method, scientists can directly edit defective gene. They separate and replace the defective DNA with the normal one.

Scientists believe that the new method is better since it eliminates the side effects and probable danger of adding new foreign gene.

Sometimes, foreign gene is located in the wrong place and this can cause cancer. However, the gene that is repaired through CRISPR is under control.

Scientists have yet to attain positive result by using this technique in humans, however, they keep trying.

Iranian scientists also have conducted research in this field in recent years, leading to results which are on par with those in other countries.

Deputy Chief of Iran Genetic Association told Iran Daily that CRISPR is one of latest and most important techniques in editing defective genomic segments.

Pointing to diseases resulting from genetic disorders, Javad Mowla added that due to genetic defect, a vital enzyme isn’t produced in the body but by diagnosing the defect and replacing the defective segment of the genome, there is more hope of curing the disease.

On global results in CRISPR technique, he added, “Our outcome is not significantly different from that of the world. As just one or two clinical phases of the technique have started in the world and they have not achieved any result in curing humans yet.”

He further said: “CRISPR exists as a laboratory-level technique in Iran. Researchers have tested the technique on animals and are ready to enter clinical phase.”

Mowla continued, “Clinical phase is full of risks, so we should consider all aspects. Therefore, we enter to this phase by observing the required standards.”

He said, “Through collaboration between medical scientists and primary scientific researchers, we hope we can pave the grounds for using this technique in the treatment sector.”

On the country’s progress in genetic research, he added, “We don’t have any shortage in production of science, however budget problems can lead to delay in research projects.”

The deputy chief of Iran Genetic Association said several major companies are currently active in producing genetic medicines in the country. They have even exported their products, he added.

On the expensive price of genetic medicines, Mowla pointed out it takes at least 15 years of research to produce any such medicine.

So, the companies want to recover the costs involved in years of research by selling these products, he said.

He added that the foreign brands are very expensive while the domestic products have lower prices.


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