CRISPR Gene Editing (Global Issue)
Doudna and Sternberg (19-min. video) headed the team that discovered an inexpensive and reliable method of gene editing in all species including human called CRISPR-Cas9 around 2012. “As long as the genetic code for a particular trait is known, scientists can use CRISPR-Cas9 to insert, edit, or delete the associated gene in virtually any living plant’s or animal’s genome.” (Doudna and Sternberg)
“CRISPR is a family of DNA sequences in bacteria. The sequences contain snippets of DNA from viruses that have attacked the bacterium. These snippets are used by the bacterium to detect and destroy DNA from similar viruses during subsequent attacks. These sequences play a key role in a bacterial defense system, and form the basis of a technology known as CRISPR/Cas9 that effectively and specifically changes genes within organisms.” (Courtesy © Wikipedia)
The CRISPR technology is a very powerful tool (80-min. video) for correcting genetic disabilities and diseases in humans, and for creating more productive, desirable, and profitable strains of animals and plants, often called Genetic Modification (GM), Genetic Improvement, or Genetic Engineering. The technology is advancing rapidly, becoming more precisely targeted and reliable, and may have a significant effect on extending human longevity and world population.
Some of the human diseases that may be curable or controllable by CRISPR technologies are: Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, cancer, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, hemochromatosis, hemophilia, high blood pressure, Huntington’s disease, Marfan syndrome, muscular dystrophy, sickle cell anemia, etc. It may also be able to kill off an undesirable rapidly-propagating pest species using gene drives, e.g., malaria mosquitoes (13-min. video) – but gene drives cause concern because the use is irreversible for the fast-propagating species.
Disease cure tests are well underway in mice and other non-human animals. On October 28, 2016, a team from the Sichuan University in Chengdu, China became the first in the world to inject an adult human with cells that have been genetically edited using the CRISPR/Cas9 technique. In 2017, 20 other trials were under way or nearly ready, mostly in China. However, the biggest early impact is going to be in agriculture. In 2018, first applications of CRISPR edited soybeans (Calyxt) are being commercially grown. The most committed countries appear to be the US and China. It is likely that CRISPR technology will have a major impact to delay the negative effects of aging and increase the world population, but the true extent is unknown.
The central issue of concern on this website is that the People should not permit our Congress alone to make decisions in medicine when we know with certainty that Congress can be influenced and corrupted to make disastrous legislation that lead to massive loss of life. E.g., the $100 million of lobbying/bribery of Congress by big pharma, causing the unnecessary opioid addiction deaths of 15,000 of us and cost us $300 to $500 Billion in 2015 alone. CRISPR and like technologies should be overseen and limited by the People calling upon the best scientific and ethics advise and Initiatives, not by a Congress indebted to Oligarchs and big pharma‘s businesses.
It is unquestionable that, for a policies about changing the People’s genetics, the People must be involved. it will probably be best to have an Advisory Initiative followed by a Direct Legislative Initiative to guide and constrain Congress. The CRISPR advances in other countries will have an effect on these policies.