DIY home gene editing is all the rage: Here are the promises and pitfalls

DIY
Kian Sadeghi, Source: Wall Street Journal

Kian Sadeghi has postponed homework assignments, sports practice and all the other demands of being a 17-year-old high-school junior…On a Saturday afternoon, he is in a lab learning how to use Crispr-Cas9…

Scientific breakthroughs often raise big ethical questions…The public benefits from scientific advances, particularly in improving health. But some scientists say the power to alter the DNA of plants, animals or people, and the profound impact such changes may have on individuals and society, merits public discussion.

Crispr gene editing by amateurs and hobbyists brings an unusual set of challenges. Crispr-Cas9 is easier, faster and cheaper than previous gene-editing techniques. While that raises the prospect of people with nefarious intent gaining access, the greater concern with amateur enthusiasts is that someone might make a seemingly innocuous gene edit in a fungus, insect or plant that turns out to wreak havoc on the environment.

There are those who believe that given the importance of the ethical debate, the more people know about Crispr—including hands-on experience with it—the better. A do-it-yourself Crispr kit with enough material to perform five experiments gene-editing the bacteria included in the package is available online for $150. Genspace, the Brooklyn, N.Y., community lab where Mr. Sadeghi is learning how to use Crispr to edit a gene in brewer’s yeast, charges $400 for four intensive sessions. More than 80 people have taken the classes since the lab started offering them last year.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post:  DIY Gene Editing: Fast, Cheap—and Worrisome

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