Here’s What Life Will be Like in the Age of Gene Editing
Geneticists began experimenting with DNA decades ago, cutting, pasting, editing, and assembling fragments from different species and then observing their response. Thanks to their efforts, genetic engineering has been able to provide us with more resistant and nutritious foods, for example, and we may soon be able to definitively cure diseases such as HIV or cancer.
The science and other stuff to know
Genetic engineering is the experimental field of biology that studies the nature and behavior of the fundamental building blocks of life: genes. This field was transformed in 2003 when the Spanish researcher Francisco Mojica discovered a DNA sequence that he named CRISPR. Simply put, CRISPR is a powerful tool for editing genomes. It enables researchers to alter DNA sequences and modify gene function.
In the future, some scientists hope to use CRISPR to detect and remove fragments of the human genome that pose a threat to the health of the individual. A study published in 2015, for example, investigated the effectiveness of this method in treating HIV in rats and found encouraging results. In the coming decades, significant advances with CRISPR in the clinical field could allow us to eradicate many human diseases. However, despite its promise, the technology also raises ethical concerns.
In this video by the YouTube channel Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell, you can learn more about this scientific breakthrough. As the narrator describes in the video, the imminent advances in genetic engineering imply an uncomfortable but necessary social debate about its development and applications.