Genetic Modification: Exploring Changes to DNA for Desired Characteristics

 Genetic modification is when an organism containing genetic code has been altered to obtain a desired characteristic. The earliest examples of genetic modification/manipulation included the selective breeding of plants and animals, which has been taking place over the last 10000 years. It has been recorded that early societies like the Romans were using manipulation … Read more

Improve Global Health & Reduce Famine with GM Foods: The Benefits & Safety of GMOs

 Daniella Lyustin- 805-095-999 Biotechnology and Society Cecale, Discussion 1C December 7, 2018 The Benefits and Safety of GMOs Genetically modified organisms have become one of the greatest controversies worldwide, as they have the power to alleviate famine due to their ability to feed countless people, in spite of their incorrect reputation for being potentially … Read more

Utilizing IVF to Create Designer Babies

 What if it was possible to overcome infertility, to reduce the risk of a child developing cancer, and to eliminate genetic diseases all in the same process? Such a process could become essential in addressing mankind’s wellbeing, and should be scrutinized for it moral value and applications. This process is called In Vitro Fertilization … Read more

Should We Genetically Modify Ourselves?

 Should we genetically modify ourselves? Introduction According to the Cambridge dictionary genetic modification (GM) is “the process of changing the structure of the genes of a living thing in order to make it healthier, stronger, or more useful to humans”.  Since 1973 when the first genetically modified organism (GMO) bacterium was created biotechnology has … Read more

Treatment of Apolipoprotein L1 with CRISPR and Chinese Medication

Summary: Chronic Kidney Disease and Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis are affecting humans all over the globe. Apolipoprotein L1 is the cause of kidney diseases, especially in African ancestry. Through CRISPR and  Chinese Medication, kidney disease can be cured or controlled. CRISPR can target the risk variant and eliminate the high risk genotype from the variant. Chinese … Read more

Personalised medicine for cancer

Introduction Mutations that are occured at oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes causes genomic alteration. These genomic alterations play a key roles to occur formation, progressing and metastasis of cancer. To understand developing and progressing of cancer mechanism and also enhancing personalized cancer treatments are both associated with analyzing and distinguishing of all genomic alteration in … Read more

Therapeutic potential of phages

Amounting to the largest biomass on the planet, bacteriophages are seen to have a huge potential in the biopharmaceutical landscape. With the rapid emergence of antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens, research interest in phage therapy has grown. Controlling the lytic action of phages will allow for the development of an inducible phage therapy and will … Read more

The application of genetic engineering to medicine

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION 1.1 WHAT IS GENETIC ENGINEERING? Genetic engineering or genetic modification is the alteration or modification of an organism’s genome using modern DNA technology (Biotechnology). It usually involves the introduction of foreign DNA or synthetic genes into the organism; the new resulting organism is often referred to as transgenic and or genetically modified … Read more

Improving agricultural productivity (focus on Tanzania)

Abstract: Agriculture is the most lucrative factor of Tanzania’s economy. The sector accounts for 26.8% of the GDP, and about 80% of the workforce. However, only a quarter of the 44 million hectares of land in Tanzania is used for agriculture. The biggest aspects of Tanzania’s low agricultural productivity is lack of response to changing … Read more

Embryonic gene editing – should the US change current legislation?

The future of embryonic gene modification continues to present a heavily complicated ethical dilemma for various intellectual individuals. Some believe that it is highly likely one day humans will intentionally modify their babies to fit a certain standard, while others argue that it seems unlikely for this to occur. When discussing whether the United States … Read more

The regulatory regime for CRISPR gene editing is inapplicable and inefficient

The advent of CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing is completely revolutionizing the way we approach scientific problems. This technology provides a relatively simple gene-editing platform to modify entire genomes. Although CRISPR holds great promise in transforming the way we approach human diseases, it remains largely unregulated because of the outdated and restrictive regulatory scheme for biotechnology in … Read more

Will genome editing replace HSCT for blood diseases?

Genome editing involves the modification of the genome at a specific site in a DNA sequence [1]. Today, genetic engineering is used in overcoming many single-gene ailments such as cystic fibrosis, haemophilia, and a plethora of other diseases. However it was not until 2012, that the genome editing technique known as the Clustered Regularly Interspaced … Read more

Genetically engineering a human embryo

Should we do it? Would it make us a ‘better’ species? In a world of advancing technology, we suddenly have the power to edit our DNA like a word processor; we could potentially eliminate the chances of inherited diseases altogether which would ultimately save countless lives. However, this may open a door to creating genetically … Read more

Is cloning “playing God?”

Is cloning “playing God?”  The short answer is yes, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  By creating life and being able to control the characteristics that are expressed in humans and other organisms, a large benefit can be derived. Humans have a knack for identifying problems and tinkering and tailoring until they find just … Read more

He Jiankui – creation of genetically modified human babies

Chinese scientist, He Jiankui, has created the first genetically modified human babies through the controversial process of gene editing. The process of Gene editing functions by changing a person’s DNA. Jiankui’s conduction of this on unborn children is under fire by some (including his country’s government) and supported by others. Many scientists around the world … Read more

Should a moratorium on germ-line gene editing be introduced? 

Should we stop researching into gene-editing? This essay will explore the recent call for a moratorium on the use of germ-line gene editing, proposed by scientists and ethicists. To a large extent, the controversy surrounding the birth of the first gene-edited babies in China late last year (2018) has acted as a catalyst for moratorium’s implementation. The … Read more

Human gene editing should be legalised

Introduction The scientific abilities gene editing can provide are vastly beneficial, yet have sparked debate about its efficacy. With this power there have been many debates whether it should be illegal or not. Some feel that this is immoral, while others argue that the scientific benefit it can provide outweigh the fact it causes ethical … Read more

Analysing study on ability of Optimized CRISPR-Cpf1 to efficiently edit human genome

Section 1 – Summary Study: Zhong, G., Wang, H., Li, Y., Tran, M. H., & Farzan, M. (2017, June 19). Cpf1 proteins excise CRISPR RNAs from mRNA transcripts in mammalian cells. Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), in Florida, discovered a way to further optimize gene-editing technology. The scientists at TSRI were able to … Read more

CRISPR-Cas9 has great potential, but is currently unsafe and potentially unethical

Though the ethical concerns of gene editing and similar practices have existed since the concept first emerged decades ago, new discussions have arisen with the CRISPR-Cas9 technique. CRISPR-Cas9 is used to cut DNA at a particular, targeted location. The complex made up of Cas9 and guide RNA can find a targeted section and cut it. … Read more

Increasing the efficiency of CRISPR/Cas9 – analysis of 3 experiments

The latest genomic engineering tool used in science, CRISPR/Cas9 has been used in many studies. Research proves that it is efficient at crop improvement and helps prevent the spread of diseases. However, research exists that allow gene editing to be even more efficient with the use of multiple gRNAs (guide RNA). This review focuses on … Read more

Background of gene editing, CRISPR and application for Huntington’s

The science of hereditary has changed hugely since the first experiments done by Mendel in his pea garden. What he discovered then was the existence and fundamental importance of the gene and its function in inheritance, predicting the patterns of behaviour during the formation of gametes. Although there was no knowledge at the time of … Read more

Introduction to Grain-Fed Beef and Technology

Implications are defined as “the conclusion that can be drawn from something although it is not explicitly stated”, or “inferred”. The nature of something refers to “the inherent and unchangeable character”. In the context of the Grain-Fed Beef Industry, it’s inherent characteristics are that it is a world-wide, ever-expanding economic activity where high value food … Read more

CRISPR/Cas9 overview – application, mechanism, advantages & limitations

Abstract Since its discovery CRISPR/Cas9 (Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat) has been widely used in gene editing. The associated protein- Cas9 has abled this coupled system to make very specific DNA modification. Earlier discovered gene editing methods like knock-in methods showed low efficiency in specific targeting. Here we review the principles and recent advancements … Read more

How CRISPR/Cas9 is used for development in therapeutic for cancer

Cancer being one of the major causes of disease associated mortality along with being increased with time worldwide. The main pillar in developing therapeutic and medicine for cancer involves improved understanding of tumor biology. The studying of tumor biology led to understanding of the key proteins of oncogenic signalling pathway. This led to development of … Read more

CRISPR technology – possibilities, implications and risks

A relatively new technology known as CRISPRCas9 has the capability to create global impact upon the way scientists investigate and medical professionals treat certain diseases in the future. ‘CRISPR’ which stands for ‘clusters of regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats’, palindromic meaning that it reads the same both forwards and backwards is a special kind of … Read more

Gene editing methods (HF-BE3, HF-Cas9)

Most genome-editing methods rely on delivery of exogenous plasmid or viral DNA into cells to express the necessary editing tools intracellularly. However, since the expression is uncontrollable once the plasmid is expressed, sometimes the produced nucleases like Cas9 and sgRNA will lead to the excessive off-target editing after the on-target editing. To solve this problem, … Read more

CRISPR/Cas9 in medicine, antibiotic resistance, agriculture & ethical considerations

Genetic engineering has become readily approachable since the development of the latest gene editing tool CRISPR/Cas9 in 2012. This pioneering technology holds the promise of modifying genomes of any organism in the world, curing genetic diseases and reshaping the biosphere to benefit the environment (Baltimore et al, 2015). However, there are number of ethical and … Read more

Human manipulation techniques relating to transgenesis & selective breeding of cows

Introduction The following biological report discusses the human manipulation techniques relating to transgenesis and selective breeding of cows. Transgenesis refers to the removal of beta-lactoglobulin protein from milk produced by cows to reduce immune reactions due to allergies to the protein. This is done through multiple techniques; this report refers to CRISPR-Cas9 (Clustered Regularly Interspaced … Read more

Applications for CRISPR-Cas (Glaucoma, Cancer, Cystic Fibrosis, Crops)

Introduction In 1987, scientists came across the concept of CRISPR when they noticed an unexpected chain of DNA sequences that were altered and modified, which was then recognised as a CRISPR in Escherichia coli in the course of gene analysis. Once CRISPR was discovered all bacterial species were distinguished by short sequences similar to other … Read more

Biological implications of using the CRISPR/Cas9 gene drive

Predator Free 2050 (PF2050) is a New Zealand Government enforced plan with the goal to eradicating New Zealand’s introduced pests by 2050. The newest proposal is genetic engineering and modification of Possum’s DNA, through a process of CRISPR/Cas9-gene-drives to slowly eliminate those which harm NZ’s endemic species. CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic … Read more

Biotechnology ethical issues (essay plan)

What is biotechnology and what are some of the ethical issues that arise from the biotechnological techniques? Biotechnology – The implementation of technology to maximise the use of biological organisms for human use. Benefits of Biotechnology: Medical Biotechnology: – Pharmaceuticals: Vaccines: Understanding and being able to strengthen the humans immune system Antibiotics: Synthetically designed drugs … Read more

Articles review – gene editing in neurodegenerative diseases

Scientific Literature Essay The purpose of this essay is to analyse the contents of a secondary (‘The Role of Gene Editing in Neurodegenerative Diseases’) and primary article (‘Modeling familial Alzheimer’s disease with induced pluripotent stem cells’) and then compare the two. The journal the review article is associated to must also be examined for a … Read more

The future of the CRISPR Cas9 genome editing system

Genome editing is a kind of genetic engineering in which scientists are able to change an organism’s DNA. This technology allows specific genes to be inserted, replaced, modified, and deleted. One type of gene editing is known as the CRISPR-Cas9 system (or clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats and CRISPR-associated protein 9). The CRISPR-Cas9 system … Read more

Should gene editing be permitted?

Designer bags, designer belts, designer shoes, designer clothing. But, what about designer babies? Imagine if you already knew your unborn child would have Beyoncé’s voice, Usain bolt’s speed, the intelligence of Albert Einstein, Angelina Jolie’s cheekbones and Channing Tatum’s abs? Seems pretty farfetched but is it really? A designer baby is a human embryo that … Read more

Gene editing – should we?

The human race is approaching a new frontier in medical science: Genetic engineering. With the new CRISPR technology we have, we are able to edit genes much more precisely than we used to be, and we will be able to alter the human genome. Essentially, Gene editing is changing the body’s genes by altering or removing … Read more

Gene-editing and other uses of CRISPR

One of the most significant recent scientific discoveries was that of CRISPR, a bacterial immune system mechanism. CRISPR stands for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.” It may have a complex name, but the mechanism itself only involves 2 components: an enzyme that cuts DNA and a “guide” RNA strand. The CRISPR sequences themselves are … Read more

Molecular approaches to the diagnosis or treatments of a genetic disorder

Genetic coding of human cells is made up of Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The characteristics of the human cellular system specifies the building block of proteins and molecules of ribonucleic acid (RNA). Nucleic acids are made up of polymers of long chains of monomers repeating themselves over and over. They may be double stranded or single … Read more

Anti-CRISPR mechanisms could enhance the genome editing process

Abstract Bacteria and bacteriophages have been involved in an evolutionary arms race for billions of years. The basis of the arms race results from bacteria evolving defense mechanisms to protect and prevent themselves from phage infection, while phages coevolve to evade these defense mechanisms. One of the mechanisms of defense bacteria use is the CRISPR-Cas … Read more

‘Designer babies’ – positives and negatives of genetic modifications

Abstract While genetic modification can have many positive outcomes, it is generating many questions in today’s society about how moral it is. “Genetic modification is the process of intentionally altering human genes for the purpose of producing offspring with genetic changes”(, n.d.). This could be anything from inserting, deleting or transporting genes and DNA sequences … Read more

Is the modification of human genes ethical?

Is the modification of human genes ethical? Some may believe that modifying genes in humans is immoral and research towards such biotechnology should be halted although this would be detrimental to the progress of medical advancement. This paper will explore opposing positions about the morality of human genome editing and come to a conclusion on … Read more

Ethical concerns about CRISPR

Humans have been engineering life since early prehistory. Through selective breeding, we have been exploiting beneficial traits in plants and animals for millennia (Darwin 1859, 61). Yet, selective breeding is a very slow and often unpredictable process. But as soon as the code of life, DNA, was discovered, things started to change. In the early … Read more

Supportive Argument on Gene Editing

The increasingly universal accessibility to information has led to the globalization of comprehensive dialogue, a platform by which the opinion of an individual or individual entity can be nourished into a global discourse rather than majorly existing within the scientific community. Among other discussions that lie on the aforementioned platform exists a heavily divided debate … Read more

Should the application of gene-editing be limited?

Gene editing already has widespread applications, for example, in agriculture, and it has polarized views, with whole anti- GMO movements taking place around the world. Vandana Siva, a social activist from India heavily promotes organically- grown food and is strongly against genetically modified crops in farms (Navdanya, n.d). She believes that ‘the very idea of … Read more

CRISPR Genome Editing System is Used to Treat Human Diseases

 The use of CRISPR genome editing system to treat human diseases Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats known as CRISPR, is a powerful technology that plays an important role in genome editing and widely used in the biomedical research field to explore gene function. The CRISPR sequences were initially found in microbiomes to function … Read more

Should we consume GMOs?

Recently, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have switched up our diet with altered foods which have affected human health as well as the community. GMOs are created by taking different species and splicing their genes then they are combined through genetic engineering. Consuming these foods and other processed foods can lead to cancer or an increased … Read more

Discovering Dangers: Weighing the Pros and Cons of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

 2016 Pros and Cons of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) If powerful herbicide genes became merged with the bacteria within your stomach, you should be concerned. This is one of the demonstrated results of eating GMO foods, and among a long list of other dangers to the health of the world population and the environment. … Read more

Benefits of cloning

Cloning offers livestock breeders many advantages, at a glimpse being insurance, genetic advancement, and extended genetic influence. Through the cloning process, progressive producers can duplicate the animals that contribute the most value in their herds and advance their goals to produce more efficient and healthier animals, leading to better quality food products (Livestock Cloning 1). … Read more

GMO – Genius or Malicious Organism?

Genetically modified organisms have been an extremely hot-button topic. There has been no conclusive evidence that they are extremely good or extremely bad. A new 600 page report was published hoping to shed some light on the situation. According to the report conducted by the prestigious National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, genetically engineered … Read more

CRISPR technology is imperative, but needs careful regulation

CRISPR-cas9 (CRISPR) technology holds the potential benefit of unlocking a new generation of human health, albeit only with necessary and rigid regulations on its use in research. To maximize the positive potential of CRISPR regulations must ensure equitable access and responsible development while promoting its use in potentially groundbreaking innovations. Next Generation Medical Potential: Promotion … Read more

GMOs should be fed to the human population

Claim GMOs should be fed to the human population.  GMOs are innovative assets to everyday life that are in no way detrimental to any aspect of an organism, ironically the exact opposite.  Implementing GMOs reveals signs of improving the health and growth efficiency throughout the course of a study done on 100 billion animals.  GMOs … Read more

Genetically modified foods (focus on Golden Rice / Vitamin A)

Introduction Golden rice has come to existence in Asia. The rice is different as it is modified so that it can provide vitamin A. The rice is aimed at targeting consumers who receive low income but can afford this type of rice. The Genetically modified foods have been of much concern to the public, and … Read more

Real benefits/downsides to genetic engineering

A genetically modified organism is an organism that has been genetically altered to present certain desirable traits. The general topic of the overall health and safety of genetically modified organisms is a widely controversial topic. Many people believe that genetic engineering has a negative effect on every aspect of the genetically engineered organisms. This being … Read more

Economic and environmental benefits and detriments of GMOs

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), which are organisms which have been genetically modified in order to facilitate desired physiological traits or the production of desired biological products, are becoming an increasingly important field and have many implications for our future as a species. Our population is rapidly approaching nine billion and predictions show that one billion … Read more

Cloning extinct animals

The resurrection of extinct species is no longer something you just see in the movies. Cloning extinct species has been made possible through resurrection biology or species revivalism. Scientists have been able to clone sheep, cattle, goats, pigs and mice.The term “cloning” applies to a process more technically known as somatic cell nuclear transfer. Or, … Read more

AquAdvantage salmon

After 20 years, the FDA has finally approved of the AquAdvantage salmon for human consumption. The AquAdvantage salmon is a genetically modified fish developed by the AquaBounty Technologies, a biotechnology company based in Massachusetts, United States of America. The AquAdvantage salmon is an Atlantic salmon with genes from the Pacific Chinook salmon and the Ocean … Read more

Is GM food harmful?

Introduction Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be defined as organisms in which the DNA has been altered to involve some individual genes from another organism to carry a specific purpose.GM foods have some advantages both for the producer and consumer of these foods. GM crops are made mainly to have resistance against plant diseases caused … Read more

Cornmeal, GMO lab

Introduction The purpose of this lab was to test a plant based food sample for the presence of genetic modification. Genetic modification (GM) is the process of altering the DNA in an organism’s genome by “inserting a gene or genes from a donor organism carrying a desired trait into an organism that does not have … Read more

Benefits/downsides to genetic engineering

A genetically modified organism is an organism that has been genetically altered to present certain desirable traits. The general topic of the overall health and safety of genetically modified organisms is a widely controversial topic. Many people believe that genetic engineering has a negative effect on every aspect of the genetically engineered organisms. This being … Read more

Benefits and concerns of GMO crops

In the 21st century, many advances have come from the scientific world that have benefited humanity as a whole.  Possibly one of the most controversial of these has been genetically modified organisms, also known as GMOs.  GMOs, are living organisms that have had genetic engineering done to their genome causing a change in expression, action, … Read more

GMOs benefits and concerns

Genetically modified organisms, commonly known as GMOs, are any living thing whose genetic code has been changed in some way. Scientists and farmers have been cross breeding plants for centuries, but genetically modifying organisms is a more targeted process. How GMOs work is relatively straightforward: a scientist inserts a gene into the DNA of a … Read more

Analysis of ‘The Environmentalist Case In Favor Of GMO Food’

Introduction The world population has been extensively growing, with a maximum annual growth rate of 2.1%, peaking in 1970 (Roser & Ortiz-Ospina, 2013). Ever since this year, the annual growth rate has declined. However, the population keeps on growing, and with this growth the demand for nutritious foods is rising. A controversial possible solution is … Read more

Analysis of Monsanto – GMO technology

Over the past decade or so, society has made a turn for the better by putting more importance on their health and well-being. More attention is being put into the importance of fueling the human body with high quality foods. Nutritional labels are being read, ingredients are being deciphered, everyone is becoming more knowledgeable and … Read more

DO GMOs need to be labeled?

Modifying the natural makeup, the genes of a specific species that governs the physical property through the process of genetic engineering to develop discrete and unique organisms is knows as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Genetically Modified crops, which includes plants, animals, and/or microorganisms have had their genetic makeup altered by gene splicing or transgenic technology. … Read more

CRISPR – Revolutionizing Gene Editing Tool

CRISPR- Cas9 is one of the newest genome technology editing tools. CRIPS has until now mostly been used for research, but it may seem unlimited, due to the technic being applicable to all living organisms. The predicted possibilities for Crisp may seem endless in the future from eliminating diseases by identifying single defected genes, editing … Read more

GMOs – the Cure for Poverty

The use of GMOs (Genetically modified organisms) have been an issue of debate worldwide for as long as they have existed. There is a large sum of people who believe that GMOs are dangerous to humans. However in reality they are not just helping humanity, but helping to protect the environment from humanity. Genetically modified … Read more

Huntington’s disease and CRISPR-Cas9 treatment

Huntington’s disease (HD), also known as Huntington’s chorea, is a fatal neurodegenerative genetic disorder. The disease has a prevalence of 4 to 10 individuals per 100,000 people and typically affects people of 40 years old (Ross and Tabrizi 2011). From the time of diagnosis, patients succumb to the illness within 15 to 20 years. As … Read more

GM crop plants

A crop can be grown and harvested, it can be grown to be used as profit or grown to make a living. Crops are widely used; primary use is human consumption which can be seen with the mass production of rice, potatoes etc. Livestock consumption relies heavily on crops making swede and kale. Other uses … Read more

AquAdvantage – genetically modified salmon

AquaBounty Technologies created genetically-modified fish that can reportedly grow twice as fast as conventionally-farmed Atlantic salmon, reaching adult size in some 18 months as compared to 30 months. AquaBounty has also claimed the salmon consume 20 to 25 percent less food per gram of new flesh. The firm’s Atlantic salmon are modified with a growth … Read more

GMO regulation

The communication of risk technologies, and particularly of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), has been studied extensively with regard to how they are culturally received, socially constructed, and legitimized or delegitimized in public or media discourse. These studies have shed light on controversies over biotechnologies and how they play out in terms of their social perceptions … Read more

Organic vs. GMO Seeds: Benefits and Disadvantages of Sustainable Gardening

                                            Parish Hill High School             Think Organic       The subject of my capstone project is about organic seeds and gmo seeds and I compared and contrasted them. The project required me to do a lot of research  about GMO seeds because I didn't know that much about them. I do know details about organic seeds because … Read more

CRISPR Cas9: A Revolutionary Genomic Editing Tool

Introduction The ability to engineer genomic DNA in cells and organisms easily and precisely will have major implications for basic biology research, gene therapy, biotechnology and the future of medicine. Technologies for making and manipulating DNA have enabled many of the advances in biology over the past 60 years1. The introduction of genomic sequencing technologies … Read more

The Pros and Cons of Genetically Modified Crops: A Literature Review

 Part A –  Literature Search ProQuest 1. Lehrman, A & Johnson, K 2008, ‘Swedish Farmers attitudes, expectations and fears in relation to growing genetically modified crops’, Environmental Biosafety Research, Vol. 7.3, pp. 153-162. 2. Ali, S, Zafar, Xianyin, YZZ, Ali, GM & Jumin, T 2008, ‘Transgenic crops: Current challenges and future perspectives’, African Journal … Read more

Are Genetics Babies the Way Forward? Advantages and Disadvantages of Genetic Modification

  Are genetics babies the way forward? In 2004 the term “Genetic Babies” made it from sci-fi movies and weblogs to the Oxford dictionary which reflects the term becoming part of our everyday culture. The process can change genes, traits and defect particular defects, and ensure a healthy start to a child’s life. The forever … Read more

Analysis of gene research papers

Article 1:   Source: Ledford, H. (2017, March 07). CRISPR: gene editing is just the beginning. Retrieved July 05, 2017, from CRISPR has signaled a new age for molecular biologists, and non-profits like Addgene are on top of it all. Addgene has become the place where scientists deposit their tools while also turning to … Read more

Safety assessment of new plant varieties (GMO vs non-GMO)

For the safety assessment of new plant varieties most countries have adopted a process-based legislation, where the techniques applied in the plant breeding strategy determine the procedure for market approval. In other countries, there is a more product-based legislation, where the characteristics of new plant varieties determine the procedure for market approval, but also in … Read more

About Gene Editing


Genome editing, or gene editing, is a method that allows scientists to alter the DNA sequence of organisms. This method has multiple applications in our society, including biomedical research and agriculture. In agriculture we can use gene editing to modify and enhance various characteristics of our food by combining or modelling the new DNA off of food that has more desirable characteristics. Another application includes gene editing to aid or enhance biomedical research, by altering the human genome in two ways. The first way an individual’s genome can be altered is within their somatic cells, this altering is commonly referred to as gene therapy. Gene therapy changes the DNA in the somatic cells of an individual with the intent to treat a disease or enhance the individual’s living in some way. Although these changes are permanent they cannot be inherited by offspring, as the alterations are occurring in somatic cells. This form of gene editing is widely supported in the scientific community as a promising treatment for individuals.

The second way that the human genome can be changed is through the modification of germ line cells. This involves changing the DNA of embryos, eggs or sperm before they have develop into an individual. These changes would be inherited in all future generations, regardless to whether the change is beneficial or harmful. There are three potential applications of germ line genome editing(GGE): to cure patients, to avoid the inheritance of gene-linked conditions, and to enhance an embryo for non-medical purposes. Though GGE has the potential to be very helpful it comes with much ethical controversy from the scientific community, and many countries have laws regulating the use of GGE. This brief will give an overview of the most commonly used method of gene editing, CRISPR, and the legal and ethical implications that should be considered when starting a business in GGE.

Methodologies of CRISPR

Genome editing works by acting like scissors. Scientists can go along the DNA, find a specific spot, and then remove, add or replace the DNA where it was cut. There are a multitude of technologies available for gene editing, however CRISPR is currently the most commonly used. CRISPR was designed in 2009 and stands for clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats. These repeats are found naturally in bacteria which store information that can help to recognize invading viruses. There are certain enzymes, like a molecule named Cas, that are associated with these repeats that search for a specific DNA sequences and cut precisely at that point. Scientists can adapt these CRISPR-Cas molecules to search for specific DNA sequences in other genomes, such as plants, animals and humans, and cut at those specific points. These molecules can also provide a new DNA sequence for the cell to use when it repairs the cut.

Like any technology, CRISPR can make errors which could have negative effects on the host’s physical expression of the genome. CRISPR sometimes mis-recognizes a DNA sequence that is similar to the one it’s looking for and cuts in the wrong place, resulting in off-target mutations. It may also cut in the right place, but cause mistakes where DNA is incorrectly inserted or deleted.

Legal & Ethical Considerations

Canada is one of few countries in the world with a criminal ban on any form of alteration to human germ line cells. In 2004 the Assisted Human Reproduction Act was put in place, because of public worry of human cloning due to the Human Genome Project, stating that no person shall knowingly […] alter the genome of a cell of a human being or in vitro embryo such that the alteration is capable of being transmitted to descendants. When this ban was put in place there was no distinction or clarification made about how this legislation applied to research, or in a clinical context. However Canadian scientists have not tried to find a loop hole in this legislation because of the heavy sentence it carries. Violators of this offence, if found guilty, are subject to a fine up to $500,000 and/or 10 years in prison.

Other countries have taken a different approach to regulating GGE. The United States, for example, has made the use of genetic engineering techniques to make genetic alterations that can be passed on to future generations illegal. However, scientists are still allowed to conduct research within the field, so long as the experimental embryos never have the chance to become babies. Some countries around the world possess similar bans to the one in Canada, and researchers have still been finding way to do studies. Liang and co-authors have been doing research with GGE on embryos with an extra chromosome, called triple embryos. These embryos could not be carried to term in a pregnancy if they were implanted, meaning there is no risk of babies being born from their research. Additionally their study found a high rate of off-target mutations, however most of these did not result in morally significant harm.

A criminal ban is a suboptimal tool for regulating science for many reasons. Due to the lengthy process in which legislation is made and altered in Canada bans on scientific research can hinder our responsiveness to the continually changing nature of science and societal attitudes. For example, if there were suddenly to be a shift in regulations on GGE, Canadian scientists would be at a disadvantage to other countries would have been allowed to conducted research up until that point. The Law Reform of Canada was a law commission, independent of the government formed to give the Canadian government advice on matters pertaining to law, and it was formed in 1971. In 1982 the Law Reform Commission of Canada stated that criminal law should be “an instrument of last resort used solely for conduct which is culpable, seriously harmful and generally conceived as deserving of punishment”. Canid has also signed several declarations over the years that enforces the right for all Canadian citizens to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and it’s applications. This begs the question as to whether or not the benefits outweigh the risks in regard to GGE.

130 million babies are born world wide each year, 7 million of those are born with a serious genetic disease that is hereditary. Of this 7 million, approximately 80% of the disorders are caused by single gene mutations. The biggest case for GGE is for parent carriers of these single gene disorders, although it has been argued that in vitro fertilization (IVF) could fix this problem. Although carriers of genetic disease could opt to do IVF, consider this situation. Hypothetically if both parents were carriers for an inherited disease only one in four fertilized eggs would produce an embryo that presents the disease phenotypically. However 19% of women undergoing IVF only produce one viable embryo, and if that one embryo gets two genes for the disease then the parents face the decision of bringing a diseased child into the world, or not having a child at all. GGE would prevent this chance, and therefore that decision from having to be made.

The largest safety and ethical concern associated with genome editing is the off-target mutations that may result from the use of CRISPR-Cas9, the most frequently used editing technology. These off target mutations may cause irreversible changes to the genome that could result in the development of cancer or other pathologies. Not only would these mutations effect the embryo being edited, but possibly all future generations. With any medical procedure there are a number of risks associated, and this risks need to be weighed accordingly.

These risks are not isolated to mistakes in the technology, there are any unknowns about how the technology would impact society. If the criminal ban on GGE is lifted it is quite possible that it would be used as a tool of enhancement, not just preventing disease, which could have a variety of societal repercussions. Not only is it important to consider the preservation of human diversity and individuality, which would likely be compromised. But it is also important to consider how these enhancements will effect future generations. For example, altering or increasing the frequency of certain genes that would be beneficial to the current generation may be harmful to future generations. The question remains, are these risks strong enough to justify prohibiting all forms of GGE?


Topics and themes for your essay:

  1. The potential of CRISPR technology to revolutionize biomedical research and its potential applications in clinical medicine.
  2. The ethical implications of using CRISPR technology to edit the human genome.
  3. The potential implications for global food security as CRISPR technology is used to engineer crop plants.
  4. The development of CRISPR-based gene therapies for the treatment of genetic diseases.
  5. The use of CRISPR technology to create designer organisms and the implications for biotechnology and synthetic biology.
  6. The potential for CRISPR-based gene editing tools to be misused or abused.
  7. The implications of the use of CRISPR technology on intellectual property rights and the patent system.
  8. The potential implications of using CRISPR technology to modify animal and plant species.
  9. The role of regulation in controlling the use of CRISPR technology and its implications for society.
  10. The implications of CRISPR technology for global health care and access to healthcare.