About 2% of the world's children are allergic to eggs. They are also unable to accept a lot of routine vaccinations, because the vaccinations are produced by eggs.
Molecular biologists feel that the problem can be solved by powerful crispr genome editing. Most egg allergies are caused by one of the 4 proteins in the egg. When a gene, encoding one of the proteins, is changed, the protein can not be triggered in the serum of the allergic person. The use of CRISPR to edit chicken genes can get eggs that do not cause allergic reactions.
The team hopes to hatch the first generation of genetically modified chicken as a validation of the concept later this year. However, in order to be approved for the listing of the genetically modified eggs, it needs a long period of time.
Chicken is just one of a group of animals that will soon be transformed. Today, the tools owned by researchers can only manipulate a small part of the class of animal genes, and this process is usually not highly efficient and easy. With the advent of CRISPR, they are able to change the genes of many organisms more precisely and simply. In the past two years, when scientists tried to use CRISPR in such as agriculture, pharmaceutical production&recovery and disappeared species, the prospect for editing genes of monkey, mammoth elephant, mosquitoes and other animals is frequently reported in the newspapers. Animals that have been transformed by CRISPR have even been sold as pets in the market.
Regulators, however, are still planning on how to treat such animals, especially those that are used as food or to be released into the wild. Concerns about safety and ecological impact are everywhere. Even the US National Intelligence Director is involved, and said that the easy access to genome editing, low-cost and rapid development, will increase the risk to create harmful biological agents.
The rapid application of CRISPR in animals provides opportunities for researchers and policy makers in the discussion. Such discussions will help determine which CRISPR applications will be most useful to humans, other species and science, and highlight the limits of the technology.