Class blog for sharing and commenting on current events in biology.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Editing the Human Genome - Geiling

Abby Geiling              April 19, 2015
Biology 10H              Current Event

Wade, Nicholas. "Scientists Seek Ban on Method of Editing the Human Genome." The New York
Times. The New York Times, 19 Mar. 2015. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.

In the article I read called “Scientist Seek Ban on Method of Editing the Human Genome” by Nicholas Rade, they talked about the new discovery which allows scientist to modify human DNA. This process works when “Researchers simply prime the defence system with a guide sequence of their choice and it will destroy the DNA sequence in any genome presented to it.” There is controversy of whether this should be allowed at all or what limits they should put in order to prevent this discovery from getting out of of control. Biologist are worried that people will rush into modifying genomes because the procedure is very simple. This discovery is known as the genome editing approach it was invented by Jennifer A. Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier. Although this process allows us to enhance intelligence, beauty, and possible end genetic disorders many scientist are against it. Dr. Baltimore states, “We worry about people making changes without the knowledge of what those changes mean in terms of overall genome, I personally think we are just not smart enough - and won’t be for a very long time - to feel comfortable about the consequences of changing heredity, even in a single individual. Many scientist agree with Dr. Baltimore and think we should wait until regulations of what you can do and cannot do with genome editing are put in place.
Modifying DNA will greatly affect the society. Once limits are put in place with what can be done, people will think the idea of creating “a perfect child” is very interesting and will pay too have genome editing done are their children. The idea of being able to make a person smarter or more beautiful will draw people in and everyone will want to do it. Another huge way the genome editing will affect society is by possibly ending genetic diseases. Although the idea of creating a “perfect world” sounds entertaining it could potentially cause great damage on the human race which over time would be unstoppable once everyone is genetically modified. I agree with the scientist who want to set limits on what can be done with genome editing in order to ensure that the human race will not be ending by trying to cancel out any imperfections in a human being.

I found this article to be extremely interesting. It was very well written and the author organized his words very well. He made this discovery easy to understand for people who are not scientist and just want to learn about genome editing. I would of wanted him to talk about some of the test that had been done on the animals and for him to go into a little more detail on that topic. I felt that he said the same thing over again a few times in a different wording but other than that I did not see anything wrong with the article.

1 comment:

  1. Ford Neild 9/13/15
    AP Biology Comment #1
    Your summary of your article was very well presented overall and accurately depicted the author’s written intent. For example, the effects of having an entire population that was similarly genetically modified was interesting to me. The way you described the consequences truly emphasized that, by not having genetic diverse, a population is vulnerable to a single virus. I also felt that the ethics of creating the “perfect child” was well flushed out and left the reader with dilemma. I also wonder whether or not people would genetically modify their own children and after reading your analysis, I agree that many people would have this done, but that it would take time for society to accept genetic editing. Your use of quotations was very interesting because it gave the opinion of a scientist on the subject matter. Dr. Baltimore stated that before we alter an individual’s genome, we should learn more about the information on the repercussions of genome editing. This helped me to gain better perspective on the topic as a whole with my realization that, at this rate of scientific discovery, the question is no longer “can we do it?”, but rather “should we?”
    However I feel that the analysis of many of your quotations could have been expanded upon. For instance, your quote “Researchers simply prime the defense system with a guide sequence of their choice and it will destroy the DNA sequence in any genome presented to it.” Gave a scientific explanation of the process of genome editing, but I felt it should have been followed up by a more laymen explanation. I also felt that the way you described our knowledge of genome editing made it seem like we could have the cure to all genetic diseases if we simply approved its use. This however is not the case because for many genetic diseases such as, Huntington’s disease, we are unsure of which genes are responsible or how they could be changed without effecting more than just the disease.
    Before reading this article, I thought genome editing technology was science fiction rather than reality. I had no idea that scientists were able to select specific genes and alter them. By reading your article, I learned a lot about this topic. Specifically, the methods for genome editing, though very scientifically explained, impressed me because the process did not seem very complicated.