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Genetically Engineering Nature Will Be Way More Complicated Than We Thought

For more than half a century, scientists have dreamed of harnessing an odd quirk of nature— “selfish genes,” which bypass the normal 50/50 laws of inheritance and force their way into offspring—to engineer entire species. A few years ago, the advent of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology turned this science fictional concept into a dazzling potential reality, called a gene drive. But after all the hype, and fear of the technology’s misuse, scientists are now questioning whether gene drives will work at all. Read More >>

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The US Just Greenlit the Release of Genetically Modified Moths

Diamondback moths may be a mere half-inch in length, but their voracious appetite for Brussels sprouts, kale and cauliflower make them a major pain for farmers. This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a potential solution: moths genetically engineered to contain a special gene that makes them gradually die off. A field trial slated to take place in a small area of upstate New York will become the first wild release of an insect modified using genetic engineering in the US. Read More >>

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A Controversial Study Is Tearing the CRISPR World Apart

When people talk about the gene-editing technology CRISPR, it’s usually accompanied by adjectives like “revolutionary” or “world-changing.” For this reason, it’s no surprise that a study out last month questioning just how game-changing the technology really is caused quite a stir. Read More >>

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CRISPR Could Transform the Way We Diagnose Disease

The gene editing tool CRISPR could one day mean that we can simply edit away disease, blight and undesirable genetic traits. Now, it’s also gaining traction in another realm of medical technology: diagnosing disease. Read More >>

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China Is Racing Ahead in the Quest to Cure Cancer With CRISPR

On Friday, a team of Chinese scientists used the cutting-edge gene-editing technique CRISPR-Cas9 on humans for the second time in history, injecting a cancer patient with modified human genes in hopes of vanquishing the disease. Read More >>

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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 >>