Tag Archives: CRISPR technology

CRISPR technology to treat human genetic disease, A Brave New World? VOL.1 NO.28

Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley

“One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.”

“…most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and will never dream of revolution.”

“No social stability without individual stability.”

“Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”

“The Savage interrupted him. “But isn’t it natural to feel there’s a God?”

“You might as well ask if it’s natural to do up one’s trousers with zippers,” said the Controller sarcastically. “You remind me of another of those old fellows called Bradley. He defined philosophy as the finding of bad reason for what one believes by instinct. As if one believed anything by instinct! One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them. Finding bad reasons for what one believes for other bad reasons–that’s philosophy. People believe in God because they’ve been conditioned to.”

― All quotes Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

“A group of 18 scientists and ethicists today warned that a revolutionary new tool to cut and splice DNA should be used cautiously when attempting to fix human genetic disease, and strongly discouraged any attempts at making changes to the human genome that could be passed on to offspring” (Sanders, 2015).

“Among the authors of this warning is Jennifer Doudna, the co-inventor of the technology, called CRISPR-Cas9, which is driving a new interest in gene therapy, or “genome engineering.” She and colleagues co-authored a perspective piece that appears in the March 20 issue of Science, based on discussions at a meeting that took place in Napa on Jan. 24. The same issue of Science features a collection of recent research papers, commentary and news articles on CRISPR and its implications” (Sanders, 2015).

The bacterial enzyme Cas9 is the engine of RNA-programmed genome engineering in human cells. (Graphic by Jennifer Doudna/UC Berkeley)
The bacterial enzyme Cas9 is the engine of RNA-programmed genome engineering in human cells. (Graphic by Jennifer Doudna/UC Berkeley)

“Given the speed with which the genome engineering field is evolving, our group concluded that there is an urgent need for open discussion of the merits and risks of human genome modification by a broad cohort of scientists, clinicians, social scientists, the general public and relevant public entities and interest groups,” the authors wrote.” (Sanders, 2015).

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” (Hamlet Act 3, scene 2, 230). Yes indeed, the Captain does think that Jennifer Doudna and cohorts protest too much. Does one think with a technology called CRISPR-CS9, acronym for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats-Cas system9 (Cas9 protein), commercially available since 2013, that it will not be used to edit select sections of embryonic human DNA? One need only type in CRISPER –CS 9 and a myriad of bio labs pop up, offering their services to mutate genetically any living thing you have short of a human sample. Do Doudna et al. honestly believe that any or all-sundry bio labs will not eventually tinker with the entire human genome? Some rogue or rogue state, including China, Iran, Pakistan etc.; will try to do it with an extremely good chance of success.

Here is update fellow travelers. According to The New York Times of April 24, 2015 The Chinese have tried to edit the genes of a human embryo without success.

The experiment was unsuccessful in ways that had been foretold by scientists against human experimentation.

“The Chinese researchers did not plan to produce a baby — they used defective human embryos — but did hope to end up with an embryo with a precisely altered gene in every cell but no other inadvertent DNA damage. None of the 85 human embryos they injected fulfilled those criteria. In almost every case, either the embryo died or the gene was not altered. Even the four embryos in which the targeted gene was edited had problems. Some of the embryo cells overrode the editing, resulting in embryos that were genetic mosaics. And speckled over their DNA was a sort of collateral damage — DNA mutations caused by the editing attempt.”

So this takes us back to the question the Captain posed before this article was written; will some rogue state not try to alter the human genome? Well it has happened!

“The New York Times” article is well written as usual and understandable to all. The Captain recommends you click on the hyperlink and read this article in full.

Below is a piece from Wikipedia on CRISPER technology for all you bioscience geeks, and the Captain is one of them. This makes a great bioscience crossword puzzle with the answers!

Sanders, R. (2015, March 19). Scientists urge caution in using new CRISPR technology to treat human genetic disease. Retrieved from Berkeley News: http://news.berkeley.edu/2015/03/19/scientists-urge-caution-in-using-new-crispr-technology-to-treat-human-genetic-disease/

Captain Hank Quinlan, Owner and Publisher, Chief Curmudgeon
Captain Hank Quinlan, Owner and Publisher, Chief Curmudgeon with Sam Borsalino, Assistant Publisher

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Flatfoot Willie, Corespondent at Large with fellow Staff Writers
Flatfoot Willie, Correspondent at Large with fellow Staff Writers

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