Aggregated News

Book covers

CRISPR People: The Science and Ethics of Editing Humans Henry T. Greely, MIT Press (2021)

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race Walter Isaacson, Simon & Schuster (2021)

What we used to call genetic engineering has been subject to decades of bioethical scrutiny. Then, the arrival of CRISPR — which allows researchers to cut and paste gene sequences with vastly improved accuracy and efficiency — catapulted reassuringly distant science fiction into a pressing reality, and helped to concentrate minds. There’s now enough technical and popular writing on the technology and its ethics to fill many bookshelves.

Given that not even ten years have passed since the first papers showing a practical use for CRISPR in human genome editing, these accounts inevitably go over much of the same territory. The differences are in the authors’ perspectives — broadly enthusiastic about the possibilities of genome editing, or not — and whether the focus is on the discoveries, the ramifications, the personalities involved or some combination. Two new books on the topic differ markedly... see more