The CRISPR Method of Editing Genes

3 min read

| By Traci Cothran |

It was big news this week when scientist He Jiankui announced at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing that he’d “CRISPR’d” genes in embryos of twin girls. He claims he edited their genes to make them resistant to HIV, which their father contracted. While He said he was proud of this work, other scientists were not so enthusiastic, raising a host of questions including ethical challenges of “irresponsible experimentation” as well as practical queries, while citing his lack of transparency, too. He’s university, Southern University of Science and Technology in China, has opened an investigation.

CRISPR – the gene-editing technique – makes the news nearly every week, and the issues and debate surrounding its use will only intensify. While scientifically fascinating, altering genes for different purposes creates ethical conundrums, with potentially wide-spread implications. If you edit a gene of an embryo and it causes unforeseen complications for that person later in life, who is responsible? What is an acceptable use for such editing, and what is not? Who makes these ethical and moral decisions? These questions are not relegated to the area of science, as their answers potentially impact everyone on the planet, so it’s important to be up-to-date and informed on this subject.

There’s a lot to unpack, and fortunately, there are Gale resources to help! Gale’s new eBook, Genetics, Second Edition, can be your guide, and along with informative text on this topic as well as those related to it, it also features a 1-minute video on CRISPR for quick learning.

Science In Context also offers a wealth of information:

While you’re in Science In Context, you can listen to NPR’s reporting from just days ago, Chinese Scientist Says He’s Created First Genetically Modified Babies, and read all about this subject in articles in The Washington Post, The peril and promise of gene editing, and Scientist’s claim of gene-edited babies creates uproar.

There are many other insightful eBooks available on gene editing:

So whether you’re a layperson interested in the implications of the use of CRISPR, or science student looking for a deep dive into the topic, Gale has the facts you need to keep informed!


Traci J. Cothran

Meet the Author

Traci Cothran is a manager in Gale’s Database Program and a history buff, so she can often be found watching videos from the early 1900s in Gale’s World History In Context.  


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