Muscle-Boosting CRISPR Edits


Increasing our muscle mass has many benefits, it could be used to treat muscle wasting diseases and much more, but this technology could also be misused so it must be regulated.


Muscle development and growth are regulated by myostatin which is encoded by the gene MSTN. In several animal studies, disrupting MSTN enhanced muscle growth. In a new study, CRISPR disrupted the MSTN gene in small spotted pigs causing an increase in muscle mass without interfering with the mature myostatin expression. This study further added evidence that disrupting myostatin increases muscle mass.


Prior to CRISPR, there were drugs available called "myostatin blockers". Myostatin blockers were misused by some athletes to increase their muscle mass for better performance in sports competitions, this was an unfair advantage, and subsequently, myostatin blockers were banned by the Anti-Doping Agency. Now with CRISPR editing, it adds another layer because editing the myostatin gene would be more permanent and would have permanent effects on your DNA.


Furthermore, in the media, there have been ''biohackers'' self-injecting CRISPR to enhance muscle growth. There have been mixed views about this, some say that this has been done to become equal with the big companies and to make CRISPR more accessible to the general public, but many view this self-experimentation as dangerous.


There are many applications of this research such as therapy for diseases like muscular dystrophy or usage in livestock, and some may think this technology could be used to enhance muscles for cosmetic purposes, but then it brings up the good old ethics debate about CRISPR and then everything is questioned.


Will there be any rules and regulations governing CRISPR?


If so who will ultimately choose what is ''ethical'' and what isn't?



References

1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11248-020-00188-w

2. https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/05/biohacker-who-tried-to-alter-his-dna-probed-for-illegally-practicing-medicine/

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