science
Do Parents Have a Right to Sue Over Their Kids’ Genetics?

It’s a nightmare scenario straight out of a primetime drama: a child-seeking couple visits a fertility clinic to try their luck with in-vitro fertilisation, only to wind up accidentally impregnated by the wrong sperm. Read More >>

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New Zealand Could Use Gene Editing to Kill Off Its Cutest Predator

The stoat—a small, adorable, weasel-like mammal—is the one of the largest ecological threats in New Zealand. It’s a fierce invader with few predators that dines freely on the country’s endangered birds. The stoat did not come to New Zealand via any unfortunate accident. It was brought there on purpose, introduced in the 19th century to control another pest introduced by settlers, the rabbit. It was, in essence, a Russian nesting doll of ecological disasters—one bad decision supplanting yet another.
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Scientists Just Took a Major Step Toward the First Complex Artificial Life

In 2008, researchers built the first artificial genome, a wonder of synthetic biology in which scientists generated all 582,970 base pairs of the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium’s genome entirely from scratch. It was an unparalleled scientific achievement, requiring scientists to carefully design 101 unique DNA fragments so that their codes would overlap and stick together, then bind those fragments piece by piece. It was also small potatoes, one of many steps along the way to eventually creating a synthetic eukaryotic organism. Read More >>

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Scientists Have Created the First Artificial Embryo Without Using an Egg or Sperm

Using stem cells in grown-on 3D scaffolding in a laboratory petri dish, scientists have for the first time created an embryo made entirely from stem cells. Read More >>

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These Genetically Engineered Super Pigs Could Protect Your Bacon From Viral Disease 

For pig farmers, Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome is a disaster. Once dubbed the “mystery swine disease,” it emerged in the late 1980s on farms in Europe and the US and spread rapidly, causing piglets to die and adult pigs to be afflicted with fever, lethargy, and respiratory distress. It is a major problem facing pig farmers, costing the industry billions each year. Read More >>

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A Little-Known CRISPR Technique Could Be the Key to Fighting Deadly Superbugs

When folks talk about the gene-editing tool CRISPR, they’re usually talking about CRISPR-Cas9, a combination of DNA and enzymes that together act like scissors to cut and paste genes. CRISPR-Cas9 has already been hailed a potential game changer in the fight against cancer, crop pathogens, and environmental problems. But some researchers think a lesser-known flavor of the technology might be the answer to the world’s growing superbug problem. Ladies and gentlemen, meet CRISPR-Cas3. Read More >>

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Should Anyone Really Control Who Gets to Use CRISPR?

Last week, the US Patent and Trademarks office handed down a decision in one of the most high-profile patent cases of the century. In a one sentence ruling, an appeals board granted the rights to the powerful gene editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 to the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, while leaving the door open for rival CRISPR pioneer UC Berkeley to file a new patent to lay claim to those same discoveries. Read More >>

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Here’s Why The Decision Over Who Invented CRISPR Matters

In a brief, one-sentence decision on Wednesday, the US patent office handed the patent for the gene editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 to the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, finding that UC Berkeley had not laid the groundwork for one of the most important scientific breakthroughs of this century. Read More >>

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Top Science Organisation Releases Guidelines For Genetically Engineering Humans

New gene editing methods like CRISPR/Cas9 have given scientists unprecedented potential to edit human DNA. But how should researchers in the field actually use these methods, especially when editing traits that can be passed down to children? Should they be used to cure disease? Should they be used to enhance features that aren’t necessary for our survival? Read More >>

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Will a Radical Plan to Save New Zealand’s Birds With Genetic Engineering Work?

That the kiwi bird still exists at all is something of a marvel. Its native New Zealand has no endemic land predators, and so the bird evolved to be flightless. Today, its nests on the forest floor are under constant attack by invasive species—opossums, rats, feral cats and the occasional misbehaving dog. Read More >>

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Germany is Threatening Biohackers With Prison

Over the last few years, advances in science have made the kind of experiments once only accessible to PhDs with fancy labs far more attainable. College undergrads are constructing gene drives. Anyone can buy a kit on the internet to concoct their own bioluminescent beer. Read More >>

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The US Is Cracking Down On Rogue Genetic Engineers

David Ishee’s plan was simple, if not exactly free of complication. From the shed that functions as his laboratory in rural Mississippi, he hoped to use genetic engineering to rid dogs of the types of terrible disorders caused by decades of high-end breeding. Read More >>

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A Groundbreaking Gene-Editing Therapy Eliminated Cancer in Two Infants

Two infants diagnosed with an aggressive and previously incurable form of leukemia are now in remission, after British doctors say they cured the babies using so-called “designer cells.” Read More >>

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Do We Need an International Body to Regulate Genetic Engineering?

Imagine a scenario, perhaps a few years from now, in which Canada decides to release thousands of mosquitoes genetically modified to fight the spread of a devastating mosquito-borne illness. While Canada has deemed these lab-made mosquitoes ethical, legal and safe for both humans and the environment, the US has not. Months later, by accident and circumstance, the engineered skeeters show up across the border. The laws of one land, suddenly, have become the rule of another. Read More >>

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A New Fertility Technique Could Make ‘Designer Babies’ a Reality

Designer babies are the kind of hypothetical conundrum that drive scientists crazy. What if, you ask, it becomes so easy to pick and choose which traits we desire in our children that we wind up creating a class of genetically engineered super humans and basically begin living out a real-life performance of the novel Brave New World? Yeah, what if, most scientists would respond. Read More >>