More Details about CRISPR

9 October 2016

New gene-modifying technology powerful yet misunderstood

See: CRISPR human trials to begin

In the talk, Ellen Jourgensen clarifies the way CRISPR works and is used by professionals, which helps to cut through the distortion of public voices and widespread platforms from which to spread part of the greater whole with little context.

Despite this, Ellen Jorgensen, doesn’t address my chief concerns, which is with the safeguards against abuses. Unfortunately, this wasn’t her chief aim the talk, however, she does mention in passing:

This type of science is moving much faster than the regulatory mechanisms that govern it.

Which was true of firearms, automobiles, and drones as well. They were regulated after they had been in use. CRISPR isn’t the only new technology that has evolved faster than the means of evaluating the best means of safeguard. Should research be backlogged until properly assessed? Does this not put lives at risk over bureaucratic pacing?

I don’t have a solution to offer, however, given the risks (which I’m not qualified to define or measure) which strike me as dire, would it not do us better to err on the side of caution?

As with so much of our current research, how much of it is serving our pragmatic needs, and how much serves other, less radical urges? An example in the talk that struck me were modelling diseases, however, what Ellen Jorgensen claimed she was approached with were requests from people who wanted to edit their own genome.

I’m just not sure what to think.


CRISPR – human trials to begin

23 July 2016

I don’t know about you, but I’m properly terrified.

the TED talk on CRISPR was welcomed with muted applause, I expect due to the power of this new technology, and what we have, historically, done with greatly powerful technologies (see: plutonium). It seems rather quick to jump to human trials, considering how little we know about the technology, and its potential to spread out of our control.

From the Guardian

Crispr: Chinese scientists to pioneer gene-editing trial on humans

A team of Chinese scientists will be the first in the world to apply the revolutionary gene-editing technique known as Crispr on human subjects.

Led by Lu You, an oncologist at Sichuan University’s West China hospital in Chengdu, China, the team plan to start testing cells modified with Crispr on patients with lung cancer in August, according to the journal Nature.

Crispr is a game-changer in bioscience; a groundbreaking technique which can find, cut out and replace specific parts of DNA using a specially programmed enzyme named Cas9. Its ramifications are next to endless, from changing the color of mouse fur to designing malaria-free mosquitoes and pest-resistant crops to correcting a wide swath of genetic diseases like sickle-cell anaemia in humans.

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