A Crack in Creation

A Crack in Creation

Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution

Book - 2017
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A trailblazing biologist grapples with her role in the biggest scientific discovery of our era: a cheap, easy way of rewriting genetic code, with nearly limitless promise and peril .

Not since the atomic bomb has a technology so alarmed its inventors that they warned the world about its use. Not, that is, until the spring of 2015, when biologist Jennifer Doudna called for a worldwide moratorium on the use of the new gene-editing tool CRISPR--a revolutionary new technology that she helped create--to make heritable changes in human embryos. The cheapest, simplest, most effective way of manipulating DNA ever known, CRISPR may well give us the cure to HIV, genetic diseases, and some cancers, and will help address the world's hunger crisis. Yet even the tiniest changes to DNA could have myriad, unforeseeable consequences--to say nothing of the ethical and societal repercussions of intentionally mutating embryos to create "better" humans.

Writing with fellow researcher Samuel Sternberg, Doudna shares the thrilling story of her discovery, and passionately argues that enormous responsibility comes with the ability to rewrite the code of life. With CRISPR, she shows, we have effectively taken control of evolution. What will we do with this unfathomable power?
Publisher: Boston :, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,, 2017
ISBN: 9780544716940
Branch Call Number: 576.5072 Dou
Characteristics: xx, 281 pages : illustrations
Additional Contributors: Sternberg, Samuel H.


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PimaLib_MattL Jun 01, 2018

Taken from the mechanism that bacteria use to fight off killer viruses, CRISPR is a technology that scientists can now use to edit genetic material in cells quickly and accurately, opening up new frontiers in genetic engineering for the manufacture of new crop varieties and the treatment of human disease. A Crack in Creation details the history of CRISPR’s discovery and use, and outlines its future applications. Researchers have used CRISPR already to cure genetic diseases in mice and new human treatments are in the works. Scientists can use CRISPER to alter both the somatic cells (body) and germ cells (sperm and egg). Jennifer Doudna marvels at what CRISPR can accomplish while at the same time warns the reader of the potential power of CRISPR if used on embryos to alter the germ line. Changes made to germ cells are passed on to later generations and become permanent alterations to the human genome. She worries about the danger of using CRISPR to create designer babies, the unequal availability of gene therapy and eugenics. I recommend A Crack in Creation if you want a well-written non-fiction that will keep you up to date on the revolution that’s occurring in genetics.

Dec 16, 2017

I checked out this book for more information after viewing a TEDMED video:

What if we could rewrite the human genome?

Mar 25, 2017

This began like an extraordinary book, but somewhat through it I began to think this may just be another Davos diva, and sure enough, that and her bio-startups, et cetera. This book does give credence to the fictional novel by John Burdett, The Bangkok Asset [or a Robert A. Heinlein story from yesteryear, where in a future history he suggests a Chinese genetically-engineered super-soldier army invasion, with their playing around with CRISPR and myostatin reduction???], but otherwise, around the end, I was reminded of the horrors of high school chemistry class where, no matter how hard we tried to exactly follow the lab text, those darn experiments just never turned out right!

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