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Gene Editing

In OneZero. More on Medium.

In Future Human, staff writer Emily Mullin delivers a fascinating bit of news about our organ shortage: A Chinese biotech startup co-founded by Harvard geneticist George Church has produced 2,000 genetically engineered pigs — dubbed “Pig 3.0” — in hopes of finding ways to safely transplant their organs into humans in need.

The story presents an occasion to reflect on a curious dimension of our times: Although we generally think of “platforms” in terms of online spaces like Facebook, flesh and blood are mutable through new forms of technology. In a sense, these pigs are platforms in and of themselves…

Reengineering Life

The technique could eventually lead to fewer cattle needed to produce the same amount of beef

Photo illustration; Image source: Alison Van Eenennaam/UC Davis

Reengineering Life is a series from OneZero about the astonishing ways genetic technology is changing humanity and the world around us.

On a sunny Tuesday in April, amid a global pandemic, a newborn calf took his first shaky steps in a barn outside Sacramento. Animal geneticist Alison Van Eenennaam and postdoctoral researcher Joey Owen, looked on in awe. This wasn’t just any bull calf. This animal had been gene edited so that he could eventually produce more male offspring than normal.

The bull calf, affectionately named Cosmo, was the result of five years of research. Nine months earlier, Van Eenennaam…

Reengineering Life

The experiment raises major safety concerns for gene-edited babies

Photo illustration, sources: Wellcome Trust, ZEPHYR/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Reengineering Life is a column from OneZero about the astonishing ways genetic technology is changing humanity and the world around us.

A team of scientists has used the gene-editing technique CRISPR to create genetically altered human embryos in a London lab, and the results of the experiment do not bode well for the prospect of gene-edited babies.

Biologist Kathy Niakan and her team at the Francis Crick Institute wanted to better understand the role of a particular gene in the earliest stages of human development. So, using CRISPR, they deleted that gene in human embryos that had been donated for…

Reengineering Life

Researchers used CRISPR to make ‘humanized’ mice

Photo illustration. Source: filo/Getty Images

Reengineering Life is a series from OneZero about the astonishing ways genetic technology is changing humanity and the world around us.

To study Covid-19 in the lab, scientists need animal models — that is, animals that mimic how a disease unfolds in humans. But there’s one big problem: Mice, the mainstay of laboratory research, are resistant to Covid-19 infection.

Scientists have been racing to find the best animal models to understand how the coronavirus infects cells and causes disease, as well as test experimental treatments and vaccines before the can be tried in humans. But since normal mice can’t be…

Human trials, bird flu, gene editing in space, and more

By now you’ve probably heard of CRISPR, the gene-editing tool that has made headlines for its unprecedented ability to edit DNA with relative ease. It’s the subject of a new documentary called “Human Nature” and was featured in the Netflix series “Unnatural Selection,” which was released this year. It also played a central role in the 2018 science fiction movie “Rampage” featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Hailed as one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs of the decade — and most likely, the century — CRISPR has the potential to change humans and our environment forever. It’s being used to fight…

The New New

From turning pigs into organ donors to changing the color of flowers, the future of gene-editing tech is wacky and wonderful

Photo by Gregor Fischer/picture alliance/Getty Images

There are few modern-day scientific innovations with implications as profound as the gene-editing technology CRISPR, which allows scientists to precisely cut and alter the DNA of any cell. Scientists’ use of CRISPR has taken off, in part because it’s so much easier to use than earlier iterations of gene editing. Though CRISPR hasn’t cured disease or ended world hunger yet, it’s already being used in some amazing ways. We’ve rounded up seven of the most wild examples.

1. Turning pigs into organ donors

For decades, scientists have considered the controversial idea that animals could provide a ready supply of organs to help ease the organ transplant…

Stung by a rogue scientist’s actions, experts want a moratorium on using CRISPR for germline editing

Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty

Last November, Chinese scientist He Jiankui shocked the world when he revealed that he had used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to modify human embryos during in vitro fertilization, resulting in the birth of twin girls with edited genomes. It was the first known time CRISPR had been used in this way.

Now, scientists and ethicists from seven countries are calling for a worldwide moratorium that would temporarily ban the editing of human eggs, sperm, or embryos — known as germline editing — with the purpose of making genetically-modified children.

The proposal, which appears March 13 in the major scientific journal…

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