The Arrival of CRISPR: Why The Genetically Modified Human Is No Longer Science Fiction

gattacaBy Miles Bludorn

The 1997 film Gattaca, set in “the not too distant future,” envisioned a world where parents possess complete control over the DNA they pass on to their children. The “future” forecasted in the film is now closer than ever with the latest advancement in genetic engineering known as CRISPR-Cas9 (“CRISPR”).

With the use of CRISPR, scientists, for the first time ever, can precisely edit, delete, and rearrange the DNA of nearly any living organism, including humans. Genetic editing using CRISPR takes place inside an embryo on what is known as the germ line. This allows scientists to edit the genetic material that can be inherited by the next generation. After altering, a genetic trait can be passed on to future generations. The potential of editing the germ line does not just mean that we will be able to control a child’s eye or hair color, it could also mean the ability to eliminate hereditary diseases altogether.

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