A somewhat inevitable development as CRISPR works its way into the mainstream (see our June, 2016 topic starter list and related articles for reference). While the opportunity to improve if not save lives is great, the risk of missteps can pretty much work in lockstep. I keep hearing the phrase from the film Jurassic Park “life finds a way” in my head as I type these words.
Sometime this year, people in the US and Europe will start getting treated for diseases using the gene-editing tool CRISPR , but a big question remains—will it actually work? Our primate cousins may hold the answer.
The goal is to disable certain segments of DNA to re-create mutations that are known to cause diseases in humans. Those embryos can then be used to artificially inseminate female monkeys, which will give birth to monkeys harboring genetic mutations nearly identical to those in humans.
One concern with CRISPR has been the possibility that it will make accidental cuts to other parts of the genome that aren’t being targeted. Kiem says he hasn’t yet seen any of these so-called off-target effects in monkeys, but his team is sequencing the genomes of the CRISPR-treated monkeys to make sure.[…]