The gene-editing technology CRISPR promises enormous potential as a therapeutic for curing illnesses, including potentially devising new vaccines.
But the disabled community is becoming increasingly concerned about the possibility of using CRISPR to eliminate so-called defective genes in the embryo. This raises profound questions about what it means to be disabled and the need to embrace diversity. Sandy Sufian is a disability studies scholar and historian of medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
SUFIAN: CRISPR has undoubted value in its original conception for antibiotics, therapeutics and medical treatments. The idea that you might be able to attenuate a virus like COVID using CRISPR, for example, could be considered very positive, because it would end a pandemic that has cost millions of lives. My concern is about CRISPR’s germline uses, which seek to edit out genes considered defective from the human genome entirely.