January 25, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

genetic modification

7 min read

Making a CRISPR baby is a controversial idea to even propose now for many reasons, yet even after He Jiankui’s train wreck some people have seemed eager to try it including apparently a scientist whose name perhaps many readers here are not so familiar with in this context: Professor Hui Yang. ‘CRISPR baby guys’ Is it really a good time to be pushing CRISPR babies? The original “CRISPR baby guy” He Jiankui was recently sentenced to three years in prison for a variety of actions …Read More

6 min read

Are designer babies made using CRISPR or other genetic modification technologies closer to reality today? If so, what exactly should we do about it? Researchers can use CRISPR to genetically modify just about any organism or its cells, but targeting humans is the subject of the most intense discussion including using CRISPR in the human germline for heritable “editing” or genetic modification of humans. This could in theory be done via human embryos or human germ cells with mostly existing technology. CRISPR studies on healthy human …Read More

2 min read

This is post #4 of my live blogging of the #GeneEditSummit today. It is focused on societal implications so I’m really looking forward to it. You can read posts 1-3, here, here, and here summarizing the talks and key points from the meeting so far. Annelien L. Bredenoord, University Medical Center Utrecht, chaired the session. John Harris, University of Manchester, is a philosopher and invoked Plato early in his talk. He raised 3 fallacious (in his opinion) objections to gene editing: gene editing may affect future …Read More

1 min read

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS)  summit on Human Gene Editing will begin in a few days on December 1 in Washington, D.C. This summit is in part the extension of discussions that started at a more informal meeting on CRISPR earlier this year in Napa organized by Jennifer Doudna and colleagues. The NAS meeting will bring together scientists, ethicists, and policymakers from around the world and in particular from the US, the UK, and China. These three countries are presently the hotbeds of …Read More

2 min read

After a seemingly endless period of review, the FDA has approved the genetically modified (GM) AquaBounty salmon for sale and consumption. Update: You might find my interview with George Church on CRISPR and gene modification interesting. I don’t see any particular reason to think that this GM fish as a food would pose any significant health risks to people. The fish’s hypothetical risk to the ecosystem is greatly reduced by restrictions on where it can be grown to areas away from natural waterways. Note …Read More

1 min read

Flying out of Portland Airport yesterday, I saw these magazines side by side: Trump and genetic modification of humans. Hmmm. That’s a humorous juxtaposition and the two covers are oddly similar in design. It go me thinking… Could using germline human genetic modification be a wise thing to do in some cases? After all, humanity in many ways has serious flaws. Could we try to make Homo sapiens a better species via, for instance, CRISPR’ing embryos for “better” traits and removing possibly negative traits? …Read More

1 min read

The Obama Administration today weighed in on human germline genetic modification such as via CRISPR via a note from John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The White House indicated support for the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) plans to convene an international meeting on human germline genetic modification including CRISPR-Cas9 technology: “The White House applauds NAS and NAM for convening this dialogue and …Read More

2 min read

What is a GMO? I realized a few years ago that I really should know a lot more about the whole debate over genetically modified (GM) organisms (GMOs). What are the facts on GMOs? As a scientist who has for many years done amongst other things genetics research including making and studying so-called “knockout mice” that are in a sense GMOs and also as a parent, a gardener, and a vegetarian (actually pescetarian), I should already know GMOs inside and out, right? Well, yes and …Read More

5 min read

The Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte group published a Cell paper today on using gene editing to reverse mutations associated with human mitochondrial disease. The paper is Reddy, et al. and is entitled, “Selective Elimination of Mitochondrial Mutations in the Germline by Genome Editing”. The authors report success using TALEN-based gene editing or mitochondrial-direct restriction enzyme (mito-ApaLI) to reduce the burden of mutant mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Their work was done primarily in mice, but also using chimeras made with murine oocytes fused with human cells bearing …Read More