January 20, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

designer babies

4 min read

Remember that Shoukhrat Mitalipov lab paper on the use of CRISPR in human embryos? It’s back in the news. One of the biggest stories of 2017 centered on a Nature paper (Ma, et al., see my quick, initial review shortly after it was published here) from Mitalipov’s lab claiming both efficient repair of a disease-causing mutation in human embryos via CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing and that the correction happened at the MYBPC3 gene via an unexpected mechanism using the normal maternal chromosome as a template (the …Read More

4 min read

It’s an odd confluence of events this week that (A) the Nuffield Council, an ethics think tank, gives a thumbs up in a new report to heritable human genetic modification that would probably include using CRISPR in the same week that (B) a new paper reports that CRISPR can cause unpredictable genomic damage and several other concerning reports about possible CRISPR technology side effects or challenges have come out in the last few months. Talk about bad timing. They would probably counter my intro paragraph by saying …Read More

3 min read

The new CRISPR human embryo paper from Shoukhrat Mitalipov is stirring things up, but then there’s also the murky back story as to how the news of this as yet unpublished paper got leaked in the first place. The actual paper is still not out and from what I understand hasn’t even been officially released by Nature in embargoed form to journalists. So what the heck happened? Specific details of the Mitalipov paper popped up a couple of days ago on Tech Review and on …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

4 min read

What were the top 10 stem cell stories of the year? What were the biggest news and science headlines in the stem cell field in 2015, whether good or bad? Below are mine. What are your top 10 stem cell stories of the past year? Let us know in the comments. Organoids explode. Stem cell-based mini-organs (organoids) have exploded in terms of impact in the last couple years. 2015 had many examples of these super cool human organs in a dish made from stem …Read More

2 min read

Both before and particularly now after the big human gene editing summit in Washington, D.C. at the National Academy of Sciences, I’ve talked with patients about their views on this new technology including at last week’s World Stem Cell Summit. One of the most striking moments of the DC summit was when the mother of a pediatric patient made the comment after a talk about human gene editing that if it could be helpful with genetic diseases, “just freakin do it!” A lot of …Read More

3 min read

I’ve written a new book on human genetic modification. This is my second book as the first one was Stem Cells: An Insider’s Guide, which is currently the top stem cell book on Amazon. The new book is called GMO Sapiens: The Life-Changing Science of Designer Babies.  You can pre-order it here at Amazon or over here at my publisher’s site. The newly updated cover is shown at right. The title was chosen as a portmanteau (mashup) of GMO and Homo sapiens. We’ve been aiming for the book to come out in …Read More

8 min read

What’s Cambrian Genomics? With rapid advances in genomics, gene editing, and methods to reproduce life in the lab such as cloning, today creating genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has never been easier. While there have been of course loads of discussions of GMOs in the past, we are entering a new era of what one might call DIY GMOs, when everyday people outside of a lab (possibly enabled by biotech companies) might be able in theory to create new GMOs themselves. This could in the …Read More