Easy genetic modification could mean cures for cancer (yay!), kitty-sized pigs (squee!), and, yes, designer babies (ack). In her new book, A Crack in Creation, Jennifer Doudna, an inventor of the gene-editing method, urges innovators to slow their roll. Here she considers the daunting prospects and promises of the monster-maker she created.
1. Perfect children
The prospect of editing human embryos to make people super athletic and acne-free is disturbing, Doudna says. Though it may one day be safe to fix mutations, the procedure could trigger unforeseen illnesses or disabilities.
Mosquitoes cause more human suffering than any other creature on earth. And Crispr, combined with a technology called gene drive, would do away with them. But such tampering could disrupt the food chain and potentially give rise to pests that are even more annoying (or more deadly).
8. Cracking cancer
Crispr is being used in mice to edit T cells so they attack cancerous tumors more effectively. Doudna is all in: “Of all Crispr’s contributions, fighting cancer is the one for which I feel the most anticipation.”
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