Outstanding Breakthrough in Gene Editing

DNA_Overview2Molecular biologist Jennifer Doudna of University of California, Berkeley, has recently been recognized for some outstanding achievements in scientific invention, as well as her selfless regard towards doing whats best for humanity and science.

In 2012, Doudna unveiled the invention of CRISPR, a genetic engineering technique capable of manipulating DNA. Doudna’s invention provided a solution to problems associated with DNA manipulation which were time consuming, costly and extremely difficult requiring only the most highly skilled genetic scientists.

Doudna’s CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) is a fast, easy and inexpensive way to make precise changes in DNA.(1) The technology and others similar to it are capable of performing germline genetic modifications like making changes to human eggs, sperm, embryos. Theoretically, if one changes the DNA of a parent, so it changes that of it’s offspring and for the generations that follow. This has been the primary concern regarding the use of DNA manipulation techniques for some time now; these changes impact entire lineages, not just one person.

At the same time, DNA manipulation is also capable of making positively outstanding changes for entire lineages for instance ending genetic disease. As proven in testing, CRISPR can eliminate genetic diseases that have been traveling through family genes for decades, stopping them once and for all. (1)

This possible implications this breakthrough yields is almost hard to put into words; exciting doesn’t come close. Yet, while Doudna and other researchers recognize this, they also recognize their responsibility to fully understand what unknown implications the tech could present as well. This is highly commendable because unfortunately, others in the same position may not be as inclined to act with as much integrity and due diligence for future generations as Doudna and her fellow researchers have.

Doudna and colleagues are calling for further input and additional analysis in the issue. They are asking questions, important questions like “Will removing one disease give rise to a different disease?” “Could a brand new disease spring up—one that humans have never seen the likes of?” “What will changes and splices in DNA mean for the overall human genome?”(1) And questions like this are extremely necessary and we thank Doudna and the scientific community for asking.

Read the full piece by Michelle Taylor, Editor in Chief, here: A Moratorium on Gene Editing.



(1) Taylor, M. (2015, June 9). A Moratorium on Gene Editing. Retrieved July 7, 2015, from http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/blogs/2015/06/moratorium-gene-editing?et_cid=4614903&et_rid=731471320&type=headline

Image: Uploader’s work on original work by mstroeck, GFDL  CC-BY-SA-3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

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