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Copyright 2014 by Attorney Carlos Gamino
whether it’s a good idea to use on humans.
What is CRISPR?
CRISPR refers to short, repeated segments of DNA that provide the foundation for development of systems that can be programmed to actually edit specific segments of DNA.
CRISPR is easier to use and more efficient—not to mention cheaper—so this discovery is getting plenty of attention in the scientific world.
Why Are Ethicists Debating the Use of CRISPR in Humans?
“We say proceed with all due caution, but we don’t prohibit germline, after considerable discussion and debate,” said Richard Hynes, an MIT biologist and one of the leaders of the new study. “We’re talking only about fixing diseases.”
However, the same technology could be used to make cosmetic enhancements and lead to permanent changes in the human species. Once the DNA is altered, the changes are passed on to subsequent generations; because we’d essentially be fast-tracking evolution without knowing how it would all come out, some ethicists want to put the brakes on this method of gene manipulation.
According to the Washington Post, “Gene therapy developed as a treatment for muscular dystrophy could potentially be exploited to make a healthy person more muscular.”
What Do You Think?
How do you feel about genetic manipulation in humans? Should we take advantage of technology that could make sick people well, even knowing that later it could be used for the wrong purposes, or should it be completely off-limits? I’d love to hear why you think (or why you don’t think) it’s ethical, so please join the conversation on my Facebook page or on Twitter.
Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats doesn’t have the same ring to it as CRISPR does, so geneticists are using the acronym—but that doesn’t change what science is working on, and it has ethicists debating
News from Attorney Carlos Gamino
Gene Editing is Now a Thing
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