CRISPR children

Eras overlap, as historians often remind us. This morning I read the Independent’s story on experiments in human egg modification in a print issue at our London hotel–how retro is that?

The piece covers CRISPR gene-editing in ovarian cells in George Church’s Harvard lab. Church was very careful to emphasize that these were cells in culture only, and he has repeatedly warned of the need for strict controls on any attempts to use CRISPR editing for in vitro fertilization. But of course many of us would be tempted to improve the lives of unborn children by fixing mutations known to boost the risks of breast cancer or cystic fibrosis or other genetically driven disease. With this genuinely revolutionary gene-editing technology in hand, the slope here is not just slippery, it’s close to vertical. With so much of worldwide medical research now driven by the ultrarich, it’s a good bet that more than a few labs are already quietly pursuing clinical plans.

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