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In the world of biology — and coming soon to the wider world — enthusiasm and optimism continue to spread about CRISPR, a technology that allows precise editing of DNA.
If you’re a scientist who works with genes, it has already rocked your world: You can now snip an unwanted gene out of a DNA strand and replace it with another. Unlike the expensive blitz approaches of previously developed gene therapies, CRISPR techniques allow scientists to zero in on and knock out one problematic sequence. A process that used to be difficult, slow and haphazard has become a whole lot easier, faster and cheaper, opening up applications from medicine to agriculture. As journalist Carl Zimmer says: “Nobody’s found any place where it doesn’t work.”
CRISPR, an acronym for the unwieldy phrase “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats,” is now being tested with mosquitos to counter malaria and Zika; used to engineer disease-resistant livestock; and targeted to remove things like HIV and cystic fibrosis from human DNA. But more controversially, CRISPR has also been used by researchers in China in experiments on human embryos.
So while CRISPR first piqued public interest with its microscopic edge, attention has shifted to its macro footprint. How will it affect humanity? What are we going to use it to change? How will we make laws and pacts about it? Will it give rise to a new eugenics movement of cosmetically spruced-up genes and CRISPR’d test-tube babies?
Read full, original post: Scientists are trying to use CRISPR to fix everything. What's wrong with that?