This new medical tool can be used to edit DNA and genomic material. Its possibilities raise moral questions about gene editing.
CRISPR and Genetic Disorders (05:49)
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a genetic disorder that causes progressive muscle deterioration and weakness. Dr. Ronald Cohn has been researching a possible cure for DMD using CRISPR gene editing.
Discovering CRISPR (05:13)
Microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier discovered CRISPR in 2012. While studying scarlet fever, she found bacteria that could precisely cut out genetic material. CRISPR is programmable and diverse.
Clinical Trials (03:36)
Trials are necessary to learn whether CRISPR can help cure diseases, such as DMD. Deadly mistakes in the late 1990s halted the development of gene therapy for many years. Experimental treatments come with unknown risks and side effects.
CRISPR Experiments (01:49)
Researchers in the United States can change the genetic material of embryos, which would be passed down through generations. Charpentier is against using CRISPR to intervene in the human germline. Though embryonic research is prohibited in some countries, it continues in countries where it is allowed.
Ethical Issues (02:23)
CRISPR's abilities have created an ethical debate surrounding gene engineering. CRISPR could make the concept of "designer babies" a reality.
CRISPR and Agriculture (05:33)
Gene editing is common in agriculture and food production in the United States. The development of genetically engineered agriculture is driven by large corporations.
CRISPR and Organic Farming (06:49)
Some organic farmers believe gene editing will harm agricultural ecosystems and biodiversity. Researchers at the University of California-Davis are using genetically engineered plants and organic farming techniques to further sustainable agriculture.
Plant Breeding (09:07)
Over time, traditional plant breeding has altered corps in a similar way to CRISPR. Plant breeding transfers DNA into the genome from another organism, while genetic engineering removes and alters the DNA of the plant.
HIV Treatment (04:51)
Researchers in southern Germany are using gene editing to find a cure for HIV. In lab tests, they have created a way to prevent viruses from entering human cells.
CRISPR Breakthroughs (03:54)
For people living with DMD, breakthroughs with gene editing can be their only hope. Researchers have had success using CRISPR in animal trials.
Credits: CRISPR (00:40)
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