WHAT IT IS
CRISPR-Cas9, or CRISPR, is the most popular genetic engineering method. [PBS]
CRISPR is the cheapest and most accurate genetic editing method. [Time]
CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. [NatGeo]
There are two types of genetic "edits" or mutations: (1) somatic and (2) germ-line. [National Institutes of Health] It is important to know that:
(1) Somatic mutations are not passed down to offspring.
(2) Germ-line mutations are passed down to offspring.
August 2017: The first successful editing on human genomes in the U.S. was performed. [NatGeo]
WHY IT MATTERS
Scientific developments often receive much attention in the media and public. Often, these technologies are not fully realized and will start to become functional decades later. It is critical for the public to understand what exactly the advancement is and what it could mean for future generations.
ILLEGAL AND IMMORAL
Against the law
Human germ-line modifications (using genetically altered embryos or gametes to produce a child) are banned in 29 countries.
Some worry about off-target mutations or edits to the genome that causes unplanned damage. [NatGeo]
This could take the form of:
As seen in the movie Rampage, starring Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, some worry that the technology could be used in dangerous ways.
ADVANCE AND EXPLORE
Natural can be bad
Some believe that not all natural does not mean that it is “good” for humanity. For example, if we protected all natural things, we would not use antibiotics to kill bacteria, practice medicine, or combat drought and famine. [NatGeo]
Some argue that keeping CRISPR illegal limits exploration and knowledge of all possibilities for the technology.
This argument has caused many countries, like the U.S., U.K., and Sweden, to give a "yellow light" to scientific researchers to explore. [Science]
WHERE WE ARE NOW
Feb. 2018: Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority in the U.K. approved an Institute in London to modify human embryos using CRISPR - the second-time human embryos have been used in such research. [The Guardian]
If there are known diseases in genes, some chose to adopt children.