Saturday, February 2, 2019

Genetically Edited Humans (again)?

NPR reported yesterday that another scientist was using CRISPR technology to genetically edit embryos. (You may have heard of the Chinese scientist He Jiankui being criticized by the world for bringing to life two genetically edited babies). Even with all the controversy regarding this experiment, Dieter Egli-a developmental biologist at Columbia University, is modifying DNA in human embryos.Dr. Egli states that he has no intention of bringing the embryos to life or creating designer babies. He wants to use the Gene editing tool CRISPR to safely remove mutations in human embryos to prevent disease from being passed down to other generations. However, if he is successful, Dr. Egli does want to allow the genetically edited embryos to further develop. Dr. Egli is currently only focusing on the gene that causes blindness.
Photo of Dr. Egli in his Lab

While these experiments are highly controversial, I do believe it is crucial to understanding genes and mutations. I don't believe Dr. Egli and Dr. Jiankui can be compared. Dr. Egli is simply using the embryos for research purposes-the intention of developing them further in the womb is not an option. If the CRISPR technology is truly able to edit genes at an embryonic state, there are so many congenial illnesses such as cystic fibrosis and Huntington's disease that could be prevented.


  1. I strongly believe that the CRISPR technology is on the right track to curing diseases that have remained untreatable. However, I feel that this technology will be misused for such unethical purposes such as designer babies. My hope is that this technology will be regulated for strictly health research use only.

  2. I believe that CRISPR is a stepping stone in genetics. Using this gene-editing tool in human embryos--although controversial--will be a great feat in manipulating mutations and deleting chromosomes that causes diseases that could affect the people in the long term.