Two gene drive approaches:

  • replacement: alters a specific trait
  • suppression: suppresses a gene

CRISPR breaks DNA at a targeted location; the DNA heals itself in two ways:

  • nonhomologous end joining: two ends that were broken get stitched together in a random way
    • eventually confuses CRISPR, which is designed to locate a specific stretch of DNA
  • homology-directed repair: DNA uses a genetic template to heal

CRISPR potential:

  • could stop the spread of disease
  • could correct genes for inherited diseases or disabilities
  • could treat or prevent disease or disability
  • unlimited possibilities

CRISPR concerns:

  • no way to undo a gene drive once it is released in a wild population
  • uncertainty over how it may affect an ecosystem
  • population would likely develop a resistance to the gene drive
  • if carrier populations are edited to withstand diseases, the parasites may mutate
  • can damage DNA that is far from the target location
  • potential cell death after DNA editing
  • p53 protein could activate from stress from CRISPR activity and thwart it
  • some people may have already developed a resistance to CRISPR, which is a bacterial protein, during common bacterial infections
  • use for “enhancements” that could exacerbate social inequities

One thought on “GMOs

  1. Good preliminary research Jenna – I’m particularly pleased that you addressed the concerns related to CRISPR – it’s crucial in considering its role and future uses.

    Thursday’s class will really allow us to unpack those ideas more explicitly in the context of ethics and human/animal/environmental impact.

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