Once the subject of science fiction books and movies; Even now, fantastic concepts like gene editing and designer babies have come true today. As humans, our imaginations are limitless and we dream of much more; We are trying to cure diseases through the use of biochemical technologies, and even change our DNA to become “super people”.
When it comes to genetics, there is one key tool that you will definitely find: CRISPR. This technology, which causes excitement in the scientific world and is believed to shape the future of the world, was found by Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna, and SXSW 2021There was best-selling author Walter Isaacson, who discussed his story in his book.
What is CRISPR and what is not?
Isaacson’s new book, “The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race,” is about a potential revolution that awaits humanity.
“Our children are not only coding, but also genetic they will also have to learn to code, ”he says. “The best example of this is Jennifer Doudna.”
In arguing that the first scientific revolution began with Albert Einstein on the panel, Isaacson says that the second scientific revolution began with information technology. Doudna’s discovery of CRISPR may indicate that we are on the brink of a third scientific revolution.
So what is this CRISPR? This acronym stands for “short palindromic repeats grouped at regular intervals.” It is found in the genomes of organisms such as bacteria and archaea. DNA The family of television series is called CRISPR.
To summarize in its most simplified form; Bacteria have developed a special immune system to fight the viruses that attacked them in the past. They then use this information they store to combat virus attacks in the future.
“CRISPR targets a DNA sequence and uses scissors, an enzyme, to cut it,” explains Isaacson. Jennifer Doudna is the one who told us that we can turn this into a tool that we can use to organize our own genes. “
What awaits us in the future?
So we have the potential to edit our DNA using CRISPR, and this is already done. Chinese scientists have used CRISPR to create “designer babies” that they claim are immune to AIDS. In the US, they used it to treat sickle cell anemia patients. However, as you can imagine, such a huge technology brings with it moral dilemmas.
“At first, this is great, never AIDS they will not! You think, but this also indicates that there may come a time when we can go to a clinic and fix our children however we want. Taller, more muscular, more ‘beautiful’, but where do we stop? Isaacson asks.
Comparing CRISPR to Prometheus stealing fire from the gods, Isaacson says that no species has been able to do this before. That is why he says that we must be very careful.
Of course, scientists around the world are now working to understand the ethical limits of technology. However, these boundaries are still blurred and “Are we in an episode of Black Mirror?” they make you think.
According to Isaacson, we should draw this limit in “necessity”. “Scientists and countries should come together and have rules that say we cannot use CRISPR for anything that is not genetically necessary,” he says. However, when the technology becomes widespread, he tells the journalist, who asks if we can predict the tests that will be carried out behind closed doors, it is impossible to know.
Visual: SXSW 2021