If We Can Edit Genes from Butterflies, Can We Do the Same With Humans?

by Willg20 on September 18, 2017 - 11:20pm

Imagine if we can change our genes and be able to cure genetic diseases, wouldn't it be a major scientific advancement? The article that I read from News Activist ( https://www.newscientist.com/article/2147852-secrets-of-butterfly-wing-p... ) talks about how scientists have been able to change the painting genes from butterflies using CRISPR and that understanding how to change that specific gene can help turn on and off some human genes.

First of all, you must be wondering what CRISPR means. The full definition is in the article, but it basically means that it enables us to see how the different patterns evolve between species and within one species and that they all come from a common theme. Also, the gene responsible for the butterfly wing gene is called the WntA gene and that this gene is the mostly the one who is evolving to create the different types of butterflies. CRISPR was able to turn off this gene by targeting it specifically, but they had to deactivate the gene before the caterpillar was going to grow to become a butterfly.

The lead scientist Arnaud Martin shows that butterfly wings are made by patches of cells that develop to serve a specific objective. The same goes for humans. We have a brain that develop with precise patterns too. Looking at how these patterns develop in butterflies can help scientists determine how this research can be used to know how patterns in the human brain are developped. Down below you can see an image taken from the article that shows the difference between a normal butterfly and a butterfly affected by the technology of the CRISPR.

This can, in the end, help to remove genes that are of a nuisance for the human being and now "some researchers are experimenting with tweaking the genes of human embryos, with the ultimate goal of preventing genetic diseases". Go read the article! All of the specific details are there and can help you understand even better about the subject.


Wing patterns of a normal Sara Longwing butterfly (left) compared to a mutant butterfly generated with CRISPR (right)

Wing patterns of a normal Sara Longwing butterfly (left) compared to a mutant butterfly generated with CRISPR (right)