Gene Editing: Medicine’s Most Controversial Technology
Advances in genetic editing that have existed for decades only in the fantasies of science fiction writers and the fears of bioethicists have finally arrived in the form of CRISPR: a novel technology for which the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded in 2020. Scientists now have the power to rapidly and accurately edit the genes of plants, animals and human beings—opening the door to reviving extinct species, curing rare diseases, and even growing organs inside pigs for transplantation into people. Yet CRISPR also affords the opportunity to edit the human germ lines in radical ways–from creating designer babies to inadvertently culling valuable traits that will be needed in the future. In this talk, bioethicist Jacob Appel reviews the science, history and ethics of the world’s most promising and controversial new technology.