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30 Oct

Gene editing or genome editing with engineered nucleases(GEEN) is a type of genetic engineering in which DNA is inserted, deleted or replaced in the genomes of an organism using engineered nucleases, or ‘molecular scissors’ This is the explanation of wikipedia’s encyclopedia. As early as January 2016, the buzz of immunotherapy, precision and targeted therapies using the latest innovation in medical and scientific arena has given hope to cancer sufferers globally. Gene editing technique was discovered just over three years ago.

In April 2015, the world was shocked with the news that for the first time scientists from the the Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China edited the genomes of human embryos, with the techniques called Crispr, with unsuccessful results with the authors claiming the research indicated that this method is still in its infancy, and urged that further investigation of Crispr in humans is very much needed before any clinical application happens. This has opened up huge debates on the moral, ethical and societal dilemma where the threat of unintended mutations may be introduced and passed down the generations. Crispr stands for (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) is already seen as an agricultural solution in producing and feeding the growing world population.

Interesting debates have opened up from the Chinese scientists’ work, that called for a summit in December 2015, in Washington DC, US, to work on an existing regulatory framework for basic and preclinical gene-editing research. It became an agreement that this summit should be ‘revisited on a regular basis’ with a creation for an international forum. The major concern being that human germ line editing, either to remove inherited diseases and stop them being passed onto future generations or to enhance human capabilities, was deemed too ‘risky’ with too many issues. The debate has highlighted formidable unknowns, around the safety, efficacy, off-target mutations and edits, and not just in human therapies but across all of Crispr’s potential uses and application, and logistical challenges.

A recent study by molecular biologist Lachlan Coin, Associate Professor, Institute of Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, Australia, in mapping out the human genome using data from the 1000 Genome Project to understand the origins of the humankinds’ family tree back to 190,000 or more years, add on a very interesting dimension to the human genome, our ancestry. Our beautiful human existence has been around for that length of time or much, much longer. We are not completely sure of this, right.

With both scientific and medical innovations built upon from previous foundations and research, the current explosions of advanced technology and therapeutics in medicine which is so urgently needed, in helping us to find a cure for diseases, inherited or otherwise and cancers, are we trying to manipulate what mother nature has given us back then? What makes us think we can do a better job at creation than mother nature, and when she has her own failings with diseases?

My personal thoughts on this beg many questions.

I love to hear the viewers comments on this topic.


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