Jennifer Doudna: We can now edit our DNA. But let’s do it wisely-4

I think that we will see clinical application of this technology, certainly in adults, within the next 10 years. I think that it’s likely that we will see clinical trials and possibly even approved therapies within that time,which is a very exciting thing to think about. And because of the excitement around this technology,there’s a lot of interest in start-up companies that have been founded to commercialize the CRISPR technology, and lots of venture capitalists that have been investing in these companies.

But we have to also consider that the CRISPR technology can be used for things like enhancement.Imagine that we could try to engineer humans that have enhanced properties, such as stronger bones, or less susceptibility to cardiovascular disease or even to have properties that we would consider maybe to be desirable, like a different eye color or to be taller, things like that. “Designer humans,” if you will. Right now, the genetic information to understand what types of genes would give rise to these traits is mostly not known. But it’s important to know that the CRISPR technology gives us a tool to make such changes,once that knowledge becomes available.

This raises a number of ethical questions that we have to carefully consider, and this is why I and my colleagues have called for a global pause in any clinical application of the CRISPR technology in human embryos, to give us time to really consider all of the various implications of doing so. And actually, there is an important precedent for such a pause from the 1970s, when scientists got together to call for a moratorium on the use of molecular cloning, until the safety of that technology could be tested carefully and validated.

So, genome-engineered humans are not with us yet, but this is no longer science fiction. Genome-engineered animals and plants are happening right now. And this puts in front of all of us a huge responsibility, to consider carefully both the unintended consequences as well as the intended impacts of a scientific breakthrough.

Thank you.

(Applause)

(Applause ends)

Om Namah Shivay

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http://www.vedic-astrology.co.in/

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