Muscular dystrophy could be cured through the genes

Buying a shamrock at a participating Kaladi Brother's location can help the MDA help those in need as well as further research. Photo credit: Young Kim

It’s been a common belief that muscular dystrophy has no cure. However, because of emerging technology, this may no longer be the case. A device called CRISPR is becoming more popular and may be the answer to curing not only neuromuscular diseases but also many genetic disorders.

Muscular dystrophy is the degeneration of muscles. It often prevents patients from walking, moving and using voluntary muscles. Eventually, certain muscular dystrophies may affect vital organs, such as the heart and the vocal cords.

Though there are nine different types of muscular dystrophy, most are linked to disorders in the DNA.

“They’re mutations in normally occurring genes,” Wayne Johnson, a family care administration assistant from the Muscular Dystrophy Association office, said. “CRISPR can be used to ‘fix’ that.”

CRISPR itself is a bacterial immune system and acts as a pair of genetic scissors.

“It is a system of RNA molecules and Endonuclease proteins that recognize viral DNA/RNA and destroy it,” James Wilson, biology major, said.

With CRISPR, scientists can either insert or remove a section of DNA, thereby, changing the way that gene operates. With muscular dystrophy, the gene — or lack thereof — that causes the disease will be the target gene to cure.

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“The CRISPR machinery would be delivered via injection with viral particles to penetrate cells,” Wilson said.

The hope is that this therapy will “fix” the damaged DNA and spread onward to other cells.

CRISPR is a scientific discovery, and all scientific discoveries come with an ethical limitation. Though scientists and doctors should be wary of how they use this new technology. Overall, CRISPR is a beneficial treatment and may be the key to curing degenerative muscular diseases once and for all.