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Is society ready for the changes CRISPR can bring?

| | March 28, 2019
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Image: Tyzhden
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

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:  Video: House of Lords member and science writer Matt Ridely urges UK to 'break free' of Europe's restrictive CRISPR crop rules

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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