Wednesday, March 10, 2021

200 Highly Skilled People Are Literally Transforming Human Life On Earth And Beyond

wired |  I think I felt a visceral resistance at times to the notion that we could edit the human genome, especially in ways that would be inheritable. But that changed both for me and for Doudna as we met more and more people who are themselves afflicted by horrible genetic problems, or who have children who are suffering from them. And when our species got slammed by a deadly virus, it made me more open to the idea that we should use whatever talents we have in order to thrive and be healthy. So I’m now even more open to gene editing done for medical purposes, whether that’s sickle cell anemia, or Huntington’s, or Tay-Sachs, or even to increase our resistance to viruses and other pathogens and to cancer.

I still have worries. One is I don’t want gene editing to be something only the rich can afford and it leads to encoding inequalities into our societies. And, secondly, I want to make sure we don’t reduce the wonderful diversity that exists within the human species.

Do you have any ideas for how to do that?

I spend the last few chapters of my book wrestling with that question. And I hope not to preach, but to allow the reader to go hand in hand with me and Jennifer Doudna and figure out on their own what their hopes and fears are about this so-called brave new world we’re all stepping into together. I once had a mentor say there are two types of people who come out of Louisiana: preachers and storytellers. He said, “For heaven's sake, be a storyteller, because the world’s got too many preachers.”

So by telling the tale of Crispr in all its scientific triumphs and rivalries and excitement, I hope to turn people on to the science. But I also want to make them more qualified to wrestle with one of the most important questions we’re going to face as a society over the next couple of decades: When we can program molecules the way we program microchips, what is it we want to do with this fire that we’ve snatched from the gods?