Topic: Gene editing
When I was little I was obsessed with the prospect of becoming a doctor, to be more specific a neurologist. I don’t remember how it happened but at some point in my life, I was allowed to see a brain surgery from the gallery of the operation room. I have to say that that day the obsession shifted; I discovered that more than being amazed by the technology and the skilful surgeon. For me, at that moment, that brain became a beautiful, powerful, delicate computer that was being butchered by a knife, and nevertheless, it worked and recovered from such a brutal experience!
Something similar happened after I had the opportunity of my own CRISPR experiment at Genspace. After our readings, I have to admit I was a little apprehensive and dizzy about the topic, sometimes the theory is overwhelming and the biology could be a hard friend to communicate with. At the moment I have too many thoughts about the genome editing, not only because is my topic but because for fortune, it was our first topic. The reading explained how it worked, how it was being discussed or approached around the world, the possibilities, the miscommunication behind it also. You get the idea of what gene editing is, what CRISPR represents in today’s labs and the future. But I don’t think you fully understand the scale of it until you are in front of a centrifuge with your own yeast transformation protocol.
More than amazed by the science (which is by no means smaller or less breathtaking) I was amazed by the possibilities of our bodies as humans, as mammals, eukaryotes, bacterias and viruses. No state is definitive for sure. I mean, we are going atomic and cutting DNA. Yes, is difficult and from trillions of cells a dozen will be actually cut, but the beauty is that it survives, it recovers and function as expected. Thanks to science we are able to transfer vital organs from one body to another, keep hearts alive in boxes for hours and know have atomic biological scissor. Not only that, recently I remembered the story of how CRISPR was used to store information inside bacteria, taking the uses of gene editing beyond the needs of health
There are some aspects that worry most people, for me, more than anything they make me angry. If the way pharmaceutical industries behave is any indicator, we won’t be seeing gene drives tackling diseases or on wild populations just for the sake of eradication. Money more than morals is gonna be the main protocol system of gene drives, any genetical diseases that only affect 1% of the population or any wild population affecting a population that lives in a state of poverty are not gonna be part of this rush we are hearing, maybe I’m just being pessimistic.