MWT – What If? Gene Editing

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Jennifer Doudna: is a Berkeley biologist and geneticist who co-invented a groundbreaking new technology for editing genes, called CRISPR-Cas9. The tool allows scientists to make precise edits to DNA strands, which could lead to treatments for genetic diseases…but could also be used to create so-called “designer babies.”

Doudna reviews how CRISPR-Cas9 works — and asks the scientific community to pause and discuss the ethics of this new tool. Because some applications of genetic manipulation can be inherited, Doudna and numerous colleagues have called for prudent use of the technology until the ethics and safety have been properly considered.

A few things to consider…
• Should scientists be able to “play god” with DNA?
• What are some of the ways that we already intervene in the ‘natural order’ of things?
• Is it important that we start considering the potential outcomes now? Why?
• April 22, 2015 The Economist – Editing Humanity
• Is it ever right to edit human germ-line (sex) cells?
• Can we regulate it? Precedent: The Berg Letter – 1974
CRISPR Letter – A Prudent Path Forward – 2015
NIH Statement April 2015 – no funding gene-editing experiments on human embryos
• TED Ideas Blog: The Promising & Perilous Science of Gene Editing
• See what’s going on at the Doudna Lab
• How’s that work again? Understand CRISPR-Cas9 in 4 minutes.
• The complexity of human genetics and traits from Hank Green
International Summit Dec 1-3 in Washington D.C.

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