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A new form of the genome-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 appears to significantly expand the range of diseases that could be treated with the technology, by enabling scientists to precisely change any of DNA’s four “letters” into any other and insert or delete any stretch of DNA — all more efficiently and precisely than previous versions of CRISPR. Crucially, scientists reported on Monday, it accomplishes all that without making genome-scrambling cuts in the double helix, as classic CRISPR and many of its offshoots do.

News about this “prime editing” began circulating among CRISPR-ites this month, when the inventors unveiled it at a meeting at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Since then, “the excitement has been palpable,” said genetic engineer Fyodor Urnov of the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the research.

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  • Is this article an exercise in how much hyperbole can we possibly fit into one article? I don’t think you quoted enough hypesters and hucksters to really give it that final bit of oomph. When is the next episode of “Fyodor’s Avengers?”

    Meanwhile, the great irony of all this is that the breathless hype and self-promotion coming from the initial batch of CRISPR Cas9 editing by its own inventors and the compliant media already cast CRISPR-Cas9 as a panacea for human kind and an immediate fix, while downplaying all its limitations and problems. All the bluster in this article about how much they’ve improved on it (supposedly) only reveals how unrealistic was the initial Crispr-Cas9 hype.

    So it leaves the reader wondering, how seriously should I consider THIS new hype for Crispr Prime? Fool me once, shame on you… You ain’t gonna fool me again Fyodor

  • Not all diseases, or even the majority of them are due to “DNA-Glitches” — whatever those might be. Crisper tech is over-vaunted and apps for which it actually works will be few and a long time coming.

  • I do not pretend to understand the article on gene splicing.
    Nevertheless, I am awed by the possibilities to help our fellow humans.
    I pray that it will bring peace, hope, and joy to many of the deserving ill people.
    I am grateful for reasonably good health for a man who has lived in excess of 3/4th of a century. We live in amazing times.

  • I am an Evangelical Christian minister so I will address this from a moral spiritual angle. There is nothing in the scriptures that could remotely be construed to be a prohibition for gene editing as long as it is for purposes of healing. The idea of playing God by healing people is quite ironic. If you look at the gospels Jesus empowered his disciples to heal with the same power he possessed. So in the spirit of the text playing the God who heals is actually a good thing. I do not say this to aggravate you atheists. I understand this perspective is boulderdash to you, however you should not criticize my attempt to calm the concerns of non-naturalistic people pertaining to a this matter.

    • I also believe in Jesus and I believe we are advancing because we were literally created in His image–>we are also capable of ascending to higher orders of being just like Him and we still have the divine spark. I believe when Jesus commanded us to go out and do as He did he was literally commanding us to do what he did-by any means necessary. And science is how we are doing that.

      While atheist scientist may frown on your opinion, quantum science is changing everything we understand, and may someday prove religion and Magick had a core of truth.

      Faith and science are mutually inclusive to the open mind. I like to remind atheist that Gregor Mendel’s pea plants started out in a Catholic school.

  • Human evolution is no longer occurring. As we have increased life spans and decreased infant mortality rates with medical advances, we have decreased the impact of disease and physical conditions to impact birth rates. If someone who is susceptible to a disease doesn’t breed, their genes don’t get passed on.

    Gene manipulation is the only method to help humans evolve and decrease the impact of diseases and disorders. Just as with GMO foods, gene manipulation improves what is already there, it doesn’t put wings on a pig.

    But the ignorant don’t understand that and will fight. Just like they did when telegraph poles were first installed and they were afraid they would fall and hurt people. Those decrying GMO foods and vaccinations will be the first in line to decry new genetic treatments out of the fear that comes with ignorance. And will put countless lives at risk from diseases that could have easily been treated by trying to force governments to ban them.

    I have no issues with someone who doesn’t want to eat GMO foods or use advanced genetic techniques to treat disease. But when they start to impact my right to those products, they are overstepping their bounds.

    • As a someone that majored in Biology and understands GMO, I am completely okay eating GMO foods—>after long term (20+) year studies in small human populations taking into account the effect on the biosphere. Now I would not hesitate to splice myself, because the potential fallout is limited to the subject. But to generalize that people against GMOs would be against human editing is to miss the genius of humanity: we are smarter than you think. It is one thing to risk a population of aging Baby Boomers; it is an entirely different thing to risk destroying our food supply by inadvertently wiping out insects we thought were pest. The long term repercussions of GMOs (in the wild) are unknowable at this point—>not enough data. For all we know the growing political divides happening everywhere could be the result of GMOs or cell phones, but we will never have enough data to analyze that before we fall… societies come and go, but hubris remains.

  • “A new form of the genome-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 appears to significantly expand the range of diseases that could be treated with the technology…”

    And expand the numerous unintended mutations caused by any type of genome editing.

  • All disease and death originate in and reflect deficiencies of the MIND down from all the generations of humanity, which is immeasurable. Attempting to ‘cure’ them with pills, potions, tinctures and technology is like trying to ‘correct’ pimples by cracking the mirror, or ‘changing’ the rules of chess by moving the figures… (‘Science’ is still building the tower of Babel, never reaching heaven, i. e., the theoretical realm.)

    • I believe you hit the nail on the head. The ability to alter ourselves puts us in a new level. I believe in God and I also believe Science is His Will. We are advancing because we were created in His image-literally. Soon we will be ready to greet the stars.

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