Archive by category | Genomics

Change Agent: CRISPR-flavoured fiction

Change Agent: CRISPR-flavoured fiction

It’s 2045, and the genetic editing system CRISPR has become a mainstay of society, producing everything from housecat-sized tigers to geopolitical intrigues. The United Nations has approved a sensible list of gene edits that can be legally used to eliminate specific genetic diseases from human embryos. This international concord works as well as one could expect from a sluggish bureaucracy trying to rein in a lucrative new enterprise. Before the treaty’s ink is dry, underground labs in Asia are offering “vanity edits” to parents willing to pay for smarter, healthier children. A single CRISPR snip to a gene that reduces the risk of heart disease might be routine and relatively cheap; altering the many genes that contribute to a complex feature like intelligence will cost much more.  Read more

Metaphor and message

On the trail of the 'ghostly neutrino': the Daya Bay Neutrino Experiment near Hong Kong.

In this week’s Spring Books special — 6 reviews, 10 books, immeasurable reading pleasure — historian of genetics Nathaniel Comfort assesses a trio of new works on genomics, led by John Parrington’s The Deeper Genome. Comfort is dismayed by the outworn terminology we keep trotting out to describe our messy, dynamic, ‘junk’-ridden inner Universe. What’s needed, he asserts, is fresh, accurate imagery, nippy enough to keep up with the evolving science.  Read more