Ever since its introduction to the world over five years ago, a gene-editing tool called CRISPR-Cas9 has been the scientific breakthrough that everyone is talking about. And while it’s the one generating the most buzz, CRISPR is just one of the gene-editing tools that scientists have been excitedly exploring over the last decade. In fact, more than 11K gene-editing studies have been published since 2010.
It encourages me to see new articles everyday about the latest gene-editing research and potential scientific breakthroughs, particularly in human health care. What draws me into these stories is the great promise that gene editing may enable researchers to treat incurable and fatal genetic diseases, modify human immune cells to kill certain types of cancer cells, and even stop the spread of Malaria, which kills nearly half a million people each year. In agriculture, we believe gene-editing could help cultivate plant varieties that reduce the need for pesticides and don’t require as many natural resources, while also helping farmers grow more crops – which would be a win for both people and the planet.
But as “gene editing” and “CRISPR” become more embedded in pop culture, I sometimes worry that the scientific community isn’t doing enough to adequately help the public understand exactly what this technology does, why it’s something to celebrate instead of fear, and why scientists, like me, are so excited about it. Read more