Temporary Expert – Week 6

CRISPR – Preliminary Research Presentation

Topic & Initial Impressions

Honestly, my initial impression was ‘thank god’, after picking my first choice which I don’t even remember what it was now because I had no idea what it was. When I pulled CRISPR as my second and final choice I was relieved because I knew vaguely what it was and I also thought it was interesting.

CRISPR is a gene editing technology. It stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. While CRISPR is the technology, it deals with specialized strands of DNA and proteins called Cas-9, ‘Cas’ represents ‘CRISPR associated’.

Most Interesting Thing(s) Discovered

Some of the most interesting things I found at the start of my research were a couple of CRISPR experiments and trials as well as all of the ethical concerns that come with gene editing technology.

The man pictured below is He Jiankui, a biophysicist from China. In 2018, he and a couple of his colleagues were sentenced to time in prison and fined. Jiankui had announced that he had edited the genes of human embryos to make them less susceptible to HIV. This trial brings up the concept of ‘designer babies’ and how the technology to edit DNA could potentially make the world even more unequal and prejudiced than it already is — what if the wealthy could pay scientists to make their babies stronger, smarter, etc.?

On another hand, there is the great potential to help people. For example, there has been a successful treatment of a sickle-cell patient. Who, after undergoing a trial experiment where she had bone marrow removed, edited, and inserted back into her body, the painful symptoms that come with sickle-cell anemia were relieved.

‘Aha’ moment for final area of focus

One of the very first articles I read was about how scientists had edited the DNA of chicory and subsequently ‘removed’ the gene associated with its bitterness.

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