Is society ready for the changes CRISPR can bring?

3-20-2019 crispr b
Image: Tyzhden

Crispr works in almost every animal that scientists have tried, from silkworms to monkeys, and in just about every cell type—kidney cells, heart cells, you name it. (Previous gene-editing techniques even had trouble with rats.) What’s more, Crispr is both fast and cheap. … And while the new editing technique sometimes produces typos, it’s far, far more precise than its predecessors.

Last November, a Chinese researcher named He Jiankui announced the birth of humanity’s first gene-edited babies, twin girls with a Crispr’d version of the CCR5 gene.

The experiment was widely condemned as unethical, unnecessary, and potentially dangerous; Chinese authorities called it “abominable.” But it also augured the next phase of Crispr’s development—from a universally embraced lab tool to one with the potential to permanently alter species, ecosystems, and people.

Related article:  Something you want to forget? CRISPR could be used to 'delete' traumatic memories

That phase will bring with it a slew of new ethical and regulatory decisions. If we are to find our way through them, we’ll need a firm grasp of the facts and an accurate understanding of Crispr’s many benefits and risks. But we’ll also need to confront a difficult question: How far do we, as individuals and as a society, want this technology to go?

Read full, original post: Preparing to unleash CRISPR on an unprepared world

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