Weekend Reads

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This week: Learn about the insides of a chemist quest to cure genetic disease, wrap your head around the debate on whether to use genetically modified mosquitos to fight malaria, and learn more about designer babies – should scientists make ‘better’ babies just because they can? 

Inside a Chemist Quest to Hack Evolution and Cure Genetic Disease

In the past few years, Liu’s become one of the most brightly-shining luminaries in the rapidly advancing field of gene editing. Since 2013, he’s published paper after paper in Science and Nature and founded three companies based on his transformative tech, with two more on the way. For any other chemist, a rise to the upper ranks of the biological revolution ignited by CRISPR would be beyond improbable.

Weekend Reads

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But not for Liu, who’s spent the last two decades harnessing the Darwinian ruthlessness of natural selection to create totally novel molecules. Now he’s setting his custom-built evolution engines loose on the molecular machines that cut, paste, erase, and edit DNA. His goal is to create a massive library of disease-targeting tools—so that one day when scientists want to make a genetic fix, they can just pull whichever one they need off the shelf, writes Wired. Read Full Story →

 

A Genetically Modified Organism Could End Malaria and Save Millions of Lives – If We Decide to Use It

“Kevin Esvelt wants me to know that if I fuck up this article, 25,000 children could end up dead”, writes Dylan Matthews for VOX

Esvelt is a biologist at MIT and the first person to formulate a technology known as a CRISPR gene drive, a gene-editing application that represents humanity’s single best chance to eradicate malaria.

Weekend Reads

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We have eliminated malaria from the rich world; it used to be endemic to France just as it is to Mali today. And now, with CRISPR gene drives, we have the potential to wipe it out globally and save millions of lives. So why is there an ongoing debate on whether to use it? Read Full Story →  

 

Scientists Can Design ‘Better’ Babies. Should They? 

Genetic technology is advancing, and critics are warning of a slippery slope. NY Times’ Retro Report spoke with the scientists working at the forefront of the research, families who have benefited from the advancements and the first-ever “test-tube” baby — now nearing age 40 — to understand the debate. Read Full Story →