Author Topic: A truly bizarre article about editing DNA.  (Read 230 times)

Offline Mart 'n' Al

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Offline GrahamSimons

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Re: A truly bizarre article about editing DNA.
« Reply #1 on: Monday 26 November 18 11:19 GMT (UK) »
That's fascinating. As he hasn't published yet, it's hard to be sure of what he has achieved - the process of peer review is important to assess claims like this.
However the CRISPR technique has real potential in the future for single-gene conditions (thalassaemia is mentioned in the piece) and is a much more focused and precise technique than previous techniques that have been used, for example, in attempts to treat cystic fibrosis.
The article maked valid points about the ethical and regulatory distinction between germ-line and somatic editing, and the restrictions specifically on work on humans. The regulatory difficulty lies with this technique being (comparatively) cheap and therefore accessible in countries which have less of a regulatory regime than we do in the UK. There is also a distinction between research (which in the UK can only be done on embryos less than 14 days old) and the production of babies.
Some further reading here:
https://www.regulation.org.uk/library/2018-Nuffield_Council-Genome-editing-and-human-reproduction-short-guide.pdf
https://www.nature.com/news/uk-scientists-gain-licence-to-edit-genes-in-human-embryos-1.19270
https://www.hfea.gov.uk/media/2470/scaac-genome-editing-october-2017.pdf
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Offline KGarrad

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Re: A truly bizarre article about editing DNA.
« Reply #2 on: Monday 26 November 18 11:31 GMT (UK) »
The article is from the Daily Mail?
I wouldn't place any trust whatsoever in articles written in that rag! ;D
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Offline Mart 'n' Al

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Re: A truly bizarre article about editing DNA.
« Reply #3 on: Monday 26 November 18 11:34 GMT (UK) »
It was fascinating, but, bearing in mind that we all have a copy of our entire DNA in every cell, I think we are a long long way away from this being a reality.  I am uncomfortable about so-called sex-changes, that might alter the physical characteristics, but the DNA stays the same.   I can't imagine how a young man would feel if he discovered he'd just spent the night with someone who had had the operation, but hadn't been open about it.  I know scientists are reluctant to publish full details of embryonic (deliberate...!) research but there is a lot that is kept back here.

Martin
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Names:
Loughborough and Loughbrough, (London, Hull, Pirton, Durham & Hartlepool);
Watson, (Bedlington, Jarrow & Hartlepool);
Ballard & Glassop (E. London); 
Leggett (Corton, Scarborough, Hartlepool); 
Young, Adamson & Wilson, (Hartlepool). 

I use GRAMPS v5.0 software. 

My ancestors are probably turning in their graves, not that I can actually find any of them.

Offline GrahamSimons

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Re: A truly bizarre article about editing DNA.
« Reply #4 on: Monday 26 November 18 11:34 GMT (UK) »
The article is from the Daily Mail?
I wouldn't place any trust whatsoever in articles written in that rag! ;D
Seems to be from AP originally, is quoted in very similar terms in the Washington Post as an AP exclusive.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/ap-exclusive-first-gene-edited-babies-claimed-in-china/2018/11/25/bb9b74de-f124-11e8-99c2-cfca6fcf610c_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.9bd45424f08c
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Offline Mart 'n' Al

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Re: A truly bizarre article about editing DNA.
« Reply #5 on: Monday 26 November 18 11:37 GMT (UK) »
KG, I was only citing my source.  In the interests of balance, here is the same from a left-wing rag.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/nov/26/worlds-first-gene-edited-babies-created-in-china-claims-scientist

I only read these two sites as they are free.  They do not reflect my politics.

Martin
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Names:
Loughborough and Loughbrough, (London, Hull, Pirton, Durham & Hartlepool);
Watson, (Bedlington, Jarrow & Hartlepool);
Ballard & Glassop (E. London); 
Leggett (Corton, Scarborough, Hartlepool); 
Young, Adamson & Wilson, (Hartlepool). 

I use GRAMPS v5.0 software. 

My ancestors are probably turning in their graves, not that I can actually find any of them.

Offline GrahamSimons

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Re: A truly bizarre article about editing DNA.
« Reply #6 on: Monday 26 November 18 11:48 GMT (UK) »
It was fascinating, but, bearing in mind that we all have a copy of our entire DNA in every cell, I think we are a long long way away from this being a reality.  I am uncomfortable about so-called sex-changes, that might alter the physical characteristics, but the DNA stays the same.   I can't imagine how a young man would feel if he discovered he'd just spent the night with someone who had had the operation, but hadn't been open about it.  I know scientists are reluctant to publish full details of embryonic (deliberate...!) research but there is a lot that is kept back here.
Martin
I think it's important to separate the transgender issue that you mention from CRISPR. The latter is a recent invention (became well known less than 10 years ago) and alreqady has lots of research applications. CRISPR has the potential advantage of being highly targeted, editing as little as one base-pair in DNA, while previous genetic modification tools are rather blunter instruments.
The other point that I think is important is that here we are looking at single-gene conditions such as CF, sickle-cell or Huntington's, which are quite well understood genetically and functionally. As the Nuffield report suggests, there is probably a benefit to humanity in general as well as to the individuals concerned in preventing these conditions. However other aspects of differences between individuals - intelligence, appearance, height, footballing ability, musicality - which are of great interest to the individuals concerned as well as to parents, are definitely not single-gene conditions and their genetics are poorly understood; they are unlikely to be susceptible to this or any other editing technique in the foreseeable future. See Robert Plomin's book Blueprint for some of the latest research on this.
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