Gene Editing to Treat Disease: A success story in sickle cell disease

by Sophia Renauldfigures by Salvador Balkus Our understanding of the genetic material, or DNA, that makes up organisms has exploded over the last several decades. We have discovered that DNA is made up of multiple genes, and that different genes have different functions. We have also found that there is inherent variability in genes, meaning that the DNA of one organism is not identical to … Continue reading Gene Editing to Treat Disease: A success story in sickle cell disease

Arrival of Gene-Edited Babies: What lies ahead?

by Valentina Lagomarsino figures by Sean Wilson Nearly four months ago, Chinese researcher He Jiankui announced that he had edited the genes of twin babies with CRISPR. CRISPR, also known as CRISPR/Cas9, can be thought of as “genetic scissors” that can be programmed to edit DNA in any cell. Last year, scientists used CRISPR to cure dogs of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. This was a huge step forward for … Continue reading Arrival of Gene-Edited Babies: What lies ahead?

Genetic editing of human embryos in the United States ignites debate

In December 2018, a Chinese researcher, He Jiankui, shocked the world when he revealed the birth of the world’s first genetically edited babies. While it is clear that Jiankui egregiously violated university regulations and ethical standards, his announcement has since ignited a heated international dialogue about the permissibility of human embryonic gene editing. Currently, there are scientists in the United States working in university laboratories, … Continue reading Genetic editing of human embryos in the United States ignites debate

Edit Thyself: Biohacking in the age of CRISPR

by Patrick Griffin figures by Olivia Foster Wincing slightly, Josiah Zayner depressed the plunger of the syringe in his right hand. “This will modify my genes to give me bigger muscles,” he told the crowd—attendees of a biotechnology conference in San Francisco last October. They nervously laughed and then applauded, having witnessed the first instance of someone trying to edit their own genome using a … Continue reading Edit Thyself: Biohacking in the age of CRISPR

A major obstacle to CRISPR/Cas9 – preexisting immunity

The discovery of CRISPR/Cas9 is one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs in recent memory. This technology, first discovered in microbes, enables the cleaving of DNA in order to remove or replace existing genes. For a crash course into the history of CRISPR/Cas9 discovery and development with primary sources please refer to the footnote*. This technology will enable us cure many genetic diseases. Work is currently … Continue reading A major obstacle to CRISPR/Cas9 – preexisting immunity