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Cyreenik Says

August 2018 issues

The future is coming fast in this arena: Gene editing is getting easier and more popular

The new gene editing technology, CRISPR, is getting steadily cheaper and easier to use. This means that genetic editing will follow an evolution similar to computers. In both cases the early uses and users worked on expensive and exotic projects, but those were followed with steady more mundane uses on steadily widening ranges of activities, and these projects were being conducted by more mundane users. The result of this style of evolution is the creation of a large industry that flowers into many activities.

We are still at the earliest stages of this evolution in genetic editing, but keep an eye out for lots more activity, both in how much is done and what activities it is done on. But, like computers, gene editing is something lots of people have emotion-based opinions on, so it is going to be high profile for many years to come. And the emotion part means that lots of wishing and dreaming is going to be mixed in with the scientific and technological harsh realities.

Genetic editing could evolve like nuclear power, another technology with lots of emotion surrounding it. Nuclear power has evolved very slowly and into very limited marketplaces. But I see this as having happened because nuclear power remains expensive, this is why it has evolved much more slowly and into many fewer applications than computers have. Gene editing could follow the nuclear power path, but I don't think it will because I foresee the costs and convenience following the computer path, not the nuclear power path.

This 8 Aug 18 WSJ article, Gene-Editing Technique in Human Embryos Draws Skepticism Critics challenge a study saying a disease-causing gene mutation was repaired in human embryos by Amy Dockser Marcus, talks about gene editing a human embryo. It is an example of emotion and reality doing some controversial mixing.

From the article, "Critics are challenging a high-profile study published last year in which scientists reported that they successfully and safely used a popular gene-editing tool to repair a disease-causing gene mutation in human embryos.

Doubts about the experiment—which used the Crispr gene-editing tool on a mutation that causes a potentially fatal heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy—were published in two papers on Wednesday in Nature and are a reminder of the complex scientific and ethical challenges that remain before Crispr gene-editing in embryos could be used in a real-world setting."

 

 

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