January 22, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

Gene Drive

3 min read

Over the weekends I try to catch up on more diverse reading and sometimes come up with a list of stuff I want to get to during this time, but I also put together weekend reads usually on Fridays as a kind of TGIF on The Niche for the wider audience here. So here’s the weekend reads for this Friday the 13th including some wacky stuff at the end. Anti-Aging efforts got some play in the media including this LA Times piece. Here’s the …Read More

1 min read

After the NY Times published an article on June 8th on the exciting, controversial technology called gene drive that can alter the genome of an entire species, strangely the article’s headline changed at least twice. The article was focused on a National Academy panel studying this technology. The headline gradually evolved to become much more positive in tone. You can see this evolution below in chronological order from top to bottom. The first headline sounded like there wasn’t much support, while by the time the third title for …Read More

3 min read

There’s a questionable notion floating around out there in the numerous discussions over heritable human genetic modification. This idea goes that if germline human gene editing goes awry for any number of reasons, scientists could simply reverse it by applying genetics again. The reversal notion does not fit with the reality of science as we know them today and could be harmful in giving false reassurance of the safety of genome modification. To put it another way, you can’t retract a designer baby or …Read More

3 min read

New genetic modification technology such as CRISPR-Cas9 has opened the door to transformative biological research, but it has also set the table for some novel kinds of technological problems for which we aren’t at all prepared including one that I call the “gene spill”. The striking potential upsides to CRISPR paired with some of the serious risks such as gene spills leave us with dilemmas over things like gene spills. We want to advance the technology, but how do we lower risks? We should …Read More

3 min read

Google is reportedly getting into the genetic modification business. It plans to use a sexy, new genetic technology called “gene drive”, which has both excited and unsettled scientists due to its great power to make GMOs in nature via reproductive chain reactions. This move toward genetic modification is part of a larger trend of Google and now its parent company Alphabet branching out into biology. Alphabet has said that “G is for Google”, but there could be the letters “G-M-O” in there too. I’m not saying …Read More

4 min read

Gene drive is a powerful, emerging genetic technology that can force genetic modification into an entire population. For more background on gene drive you can read my previous post. It’s a very exciting, but potentially dangerous technology with sizable possible risks. Recently I had an intriguing conversation with leading geneticist Harmit Malik on gene drive. What makes nuclease-driven gene drive so exciting for genetics? HM: It is very attractive because of its power, speed, and simplicity for genetic studies. As you know from your mouse …Read More

4 min read

Scientists studying genetics are both excited and worried about a powerful, new technology called “gene drive“. Some have been raising serious concerns about gene drive and in certain cases calling for proactive regulation, which is unusual in science. This method is so powerful because it is designed to induce genetic changes in an entire population in a relatively extremely short period of time compared to natural evolution and is self-propagating. The most talked about form today is a type powered by CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing …Read More