A report from the Globe’s STAT health-and-science section: “Hundreds of scientists are convening in Washington today for an international summit on genome editing, fueled by the development of the technology called CRISPR. The technology, which lets scientists easily eliminate or replace sections of DNA, caused a stir in April when researchers in China announced that they had used it to edit the genomes of nonviable human embryos, which could not develop into babies.”
The CBC also has a good story about it here, with this summary of why the topic is so exciting: “The technology is called CRISPR-Cas9 (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat). It was discovered in a eureka moment about three years ago, when scientists realized that a DNA cutting and pasting system that bacteria use to protect themselves against viruses could be commandeered to edit human genes.”
The development of CRISPR has made the whole gene-editing process much, much faster, much cheaper, and thus much more likely. This is good (malaria-resistant mosquito has been developed) and very scary.
Which is exactly why it will be a topic for discussion next year when Science Cafe launches in Concord, the latest expansion of the let’stalk-about-sciencey-stuff-in-a-bar project that is entering its fifth year (wow!). The first Science Cafe Concord will be Tuesday, Jan. 12, and will discuss the biology and pharmacology of the opioid epidemic – not public policy but science. The events will be held at The Draft Sports Bar, 67 S. Main St. Other topics being planned include the technology of the Concord Gasholder, autonomous cars, and I think greet summer with that ever-popular favorite, the science of beer.