On 28 June 2012, Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier published a paper in Science magazine describing CRISPR-Cas9, a revolutionary new gene-editing technique that makes it cheap and easy for anyone with a basic knowledge of molecular biology to directly edit DNA. Given that there are close to 6,000 diseases we know are caused, at least in part, due to genetic errors—missing or garbled sequences of DNA that result in the inability to correctly synthesize a specific protein—a tool like this will allow us to find cures for these ills by directly altering the genetic code.
But, even as biologists rejoice at the benefits that this new precision tool will bring, there is grave consternation around the legal and ethical implications that it presents. After all, DNA is the source code of life and we have to question whether we are ready to take on the responsibility …
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