Fifteen thousand babies are born every hour, every day, around the world. About 3 percent, or 450 individuals, are twins. In November 2018, a very special set of twins were born in China. Named Nana and Lulu, the sisters were the first humans to be genetically altered using CRISPR, the gene-editing system developed from bacteria.
A codiscoverer and pioneer in the application of CRISPR technology to genome editing, Berkeley scientist Jennifer Doudna, told Vision in 2016, “The big-picture view is that we have the tools to change our DNA and change the things that we are passing on to future generations. And now we can make those decisions. That is a profound thought.”
Continuing, Doudna noted general agreement among the scientific community that there should be “broad societal consensus before we use this technology in any clinical application in the human germline. But how do you define ‘broad societal consensus’? That remains to be seen; it was not the end of the conversation but the beginning.”
But conversation and consensus have been overwhelmed by the reality of Nana and...