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India's Approach to Sickle Cell Disease with CRISPR-Cas9



  Jun 24, 2024

INDIA’S EFFORTS AGAINST SICKLE CELL DISEASE USING CRISPR-CAS9



1. What is India doing to combat sickle cell disease?

India is developing gene therapy using the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool to treat sickle cell disease, a genetic blood disorder prevalent among Scheduled Tribes. This effort is part of a broader mission to eradicate the disease by 2047.

2. What progress has been made in developing gene therapy for sickle cell disease in India?

Researchers at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) are making significant progress. They aim to use the CRISPR-Cas9 method for treatment within the next six months to a year, potentially making India one of the first countries to adopt this advanced therapy.

3. What is CRISPR-Cas9, and how does it work?

CRISPR-Cas9 is a gene-editing tool that uses an enzyme to cut DNA at a precise location. A guide RNA then inserts a changed genetic code at the site of the incision, allowing targeted genetic modifications. It is known for being fast and versatile.

4. What role does the Indian government play in this initiative?

The Indian government is actively supporting this initiative. Vibhu Nayyar, Secretary of the Tribal Affairs Ministry, expects positive results from ongoing laboratory tests by January 2025. The government is also focusing on making the therapy cost-effective and accessible.

5. How are ground-level healthcare workers involved in this initiative?

Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram emphasized the involvement of ASHAs and anganwadi workers in screening and implementing the therapy. These workers play a crucial role in reaching vulnerable tribal populations and ensuring the success of the initiative.

6. What screening efforts are being made for sickle cell disease in India?

The mission aims to conduct over seven crore screenings among tribal populations across 17 States and Union Territories. So far, three crore screenings have been completed, demonstrating significant progress.

7. What are the challenges in making CRISPR-Cas9 therapy accessible in India?

One of the main challenges is ensuring that the CRISPR-Cas9-based therapy is cost-effective. Making the technology affordable is crucial for widespread adoption and success in eradicating sickle cell disease.

8. How is the international community involved in India’s efforts?

India’s initiative follows the approval of CRISPR-Cas9 technology by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a cell-based gene therapy to treat sickle cell disease. This international context highlights the global significance of India’s efforts.

9. What are the goals of the National Conclave on Generating Awareness on Sickle Cell Disease?

The conclave, organized by the Tribal Affairs Ministry in collaboration with the Birsa Munda Centre at AIIMS, aims to raise awareness, discuss strategies, and enhance coordination among healthcare professionals, experts, and officials to combat sickle cell disease.

10. What is the ultimate goal of India’s mission against sickle cell disease?

The ultimate goal is to eradicate sickle cell disease by 2047. This involves developing and implementing effective gene therapy, conducting extensive screenings, and ensuring the involvement of ground-level healthcare workers in reaching affected populations.




SRIRAM’S



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