UPenn’s researchers confirmed that they’ve been using CRISPR techniques on cancer patients.

What is CRISPR again?

CRISPR is a technology that makes it possible to edit and modify DNA with precision. It could someday help cure the diseases that are incurable with today’s technology but¬†since it’s dealing with DNA, there are many potentially dangerous scenarios that come with it as well.

Didn’t some Chinese scientist create gene-edited babies with it last year?

Yup. He Jiankui, the guy behind the gene-edited twins says he did it to protect the babies from getting HIV but there are reports that they were born with enhanced brains and that the Chinese govt might have been behind it.

Sounds shady

Shady and dangerous. Once an embryo gets CRISPR edited, the changes (good or bad) will be inherited down future generations and could forever alter human gene pool. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called gene-editing could be the next WMD.

So what makes UPenn’s research different from the Chinese twins case?

According to NPR, the modifications are “only¬†being made in the DNA of individual patients” – meaning the changes won’t be passed down, unlike the Chinese Twins who got their genes edited at embryo level.

Here’s what the UPenn team is trying to do:

  1. take out immune system cells from patients
  2. edit them with CRISPR
  3. inject the cells back into patients and see if they target and fight cancer cells

If successful, this will be mighty good news for cancer patients (Fuck Cancer, by the way) but of course, there are chances it could go wrong and cause unintended DNA changes. For now, the team says they’ve conducted extensive preliminary research and thorough ethical and scientific review has been done on their studies.

 

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