Non-Invasive CRISPR/Cas9 Method Shows Promising Results As Treatment for Chronic Anxiety

While the global pandemic has ended, its consequences are still being felt today, and one of them has been the increase in widespread and chronic anxiety among Americans of all age groups, with more than 40 million adults experiencing symptoms every year. What’s more, anxiety medications can be expensive in the US without insurance, and for many, the price paid for them and the results they have delivered simply isn’t enough. Increased anxiety makes the brain work harder, which also means higher rates of other diseases like early-onset dementia or even Alzheimer’s.

However, not all hope is lost, as the rise of new genomic technologies may be the key to alleviating the current mental health crisis. CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing therapy targets inherited diseases such as Huntingtonto non-hereditary diseases such as cancer. Recent research has shown that CRISPR/Cas9 can also alleviate and even resolve mental health disorders such as chronic anxiety. Recent research has shown that CRISPR/Cas9 can also alleviate and even resolve mental health disorders such as chronic anxiety. As technology continues to grow day by day, it will also become more and more visible around the world. different counseling jobsthat can completely revolutionize the field of mental health.

Not only non-invasive, but also effective

While previous experiments in mice have shown that CRISPR/Cas9 technology has viable potential for the treatment of anxiety, recent research by Boise State University provides even further confirmation of its transformative future.

Boise State University conducted its research by inserting an adeno-associated virus serotype 9, also known as AAV9, as a vector for CRISPR/Cas9 into the nasal passages of mice. This is also known as non-invasive intranasal administration. After approximately five weeks, 75 mice were used as a sample for comparative evaluation. The researchers found that mice treated with CRISPR/Cas9 had a significant reduction of 5HT-2Awhich is a serotonin receptor known for induce anxietyand a modification of the HTR2A receptor genealso known for playing a role in the Activation and modulation of these receptors.. In other words, the group of mice given CRISPR/Cas9 generally showed much fewer anxiety symptoms and anxiety-like behaviors.

Behavior was assessed by placing the mice under a light-dark behavior test and a marble burying test. In the first test, mice were given the option to explore a lit room and an unlit room. The anxious mice generally tended to spend much more time in the unlit room than the non-anxious ones. For the second test, the marbles were placed on a grid covered in sawdust. The mice had to explore the cage for a set period. The anxious mice generally buried many more marbles than the non-anxious ones.

The intranasal delivery system ensured that CRISPR/Cas9 directly targeted the HTR2A receptor gene bypassing the blood-brain barrier, forming its non-invasive basis. It also means that a simple nasal administration of CRISPR/Cas9 can allow for genome editing and complete removal of these receptors within the central nervous system, without any additional treatment.

Take advantage of the opportunity and avoid the undesirable

The effectiveness of intranasal delivery of CRISPR/Cas9 in modifying complex traits and behavioral disorders such as anxiety is offered as a transformative technological advance for the future of mental health therapy. While the current research has only been conducted in mice, the prospects for future clinical trials in humans still look promising.

Conventional drugs to treat anxiety, such as antidepressants and pain relievers, do not have the same precision as CRISPR/Cas9 technology. Many antidepressants and pain relievers cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, significantly reducing their objective effectiveness. Another factor is the build-up of resistance/tolerance to these medications due to prolonged dependence. Both of these things can be confirmed by the fact that Nearly a third of Americans who use antidepressants find no relief..

As such, CRISPR/Cas9 can not only directly target the root of these anxiety-inducing gene receptors, but can also be a powerful solution for those who have developed resistance/tolerance to anti-anxiety medications. Research shows that using this new mode of therapy can potentially allow people with chronic anxiety, at a minimum, to live with a reduced, tolerable level of anxiety that does not disrupt their daily activities.

At the same time, however, while aerosol gene editing is cause for excitement, it also raises legitimate concerns. Whenever it comes to CRISPR genetic engineering technology, maintaining ethical and safety standards should always be our top priority. For disorders as complex and environment-dependent as anxiety, CRISPR/Cas9 poses significant challenges. The potential future use of CRISPR/Cas9 is not without risk. Intranasal administration of CRISPR/Cas9 means that essentially editing of the human brain occurs through mere inhalation. While CRISPR/Cas9 therapy may be effective for anxiety developed from things like substance abuse, it may not be effective for others.

There is also the potential for abuse, leading to entanglement with highly controversial practices such as eugenics. Mental conditions other than anxiety, such as autism, are not known to be inherited or caused by a genetic mutation. since there is no identifiable ‘autism gene’. However, with the rise of CRISPR technologies, there is always the possibility that some will consider diseases like autism to be somehow ‘curable’, ‘treatable’ or ‘repairable’ by genetic modification, which would only lead to very undesirable consequences. It is of utmost importance that controversies such as The Jiankui Incident are not repeated and that ethical standards remain a top priority as CRISPR/Cas9 gradually enters the field of mental health therapy.

However, CRISPR/Cas9 as a therapeutic treatment for conditions such as anxiety is still in its testing period. Recent research from Boise State University confirms the effectiveness of this novel technology and has laid the groundwork for it to become a viable, even revolutionary, tool for the future of mental health counseling and therapy.

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