Hacking the Code of Life: A primer for a general audience on the ‘powers and pitfalls’ of gene editing

5-16-2019 yalenews editing genomes msh
Image: Michael S. Helfenbein

For people in a hurry, Nessa Carey here provides a primer on the powers and pitfalls of gene editing. [Her book] Hacking the Code of Life is accessible to readers without much background in genetics, focusing more on the applications and the questions it raises.

Carey considers the editing of plant, animal, and human genetic material, outlining the many advantages. The speed and ease with which we can improve crop yields, disease resistance, and robustness are unprecedented. Though still on the drawing board, editing animal genes could eliminate diseases in livestock and make meat production more efficient. It also opens up new avenues for the production of pharmaceuticals, especially drugs that are so far simply too complex to synthesize in a test tube, or too expensive for healthcare providers to develop. In humans we could even treat genetic disorders, simply removing mutations in our DNA that cause them.

Related article:  Infographic: Are genetically engineered crops less safe than classically-bred food?


Hacking the Code of Life is not intended to be an exhaustive book on gene editing and CRISPR – several other books already fill that niche. But given how topical and wide-reaching gene editing is, this primer for a general audience is incredibly welcome.

Read full, original post: Hacking the Code of Life: How gene editing will rewrite our futures

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