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10 Things I learned from The Code Breaker : Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Issacson

    1. Ask big questions

    2. There are many ethical dilemmas. It is very easy using Crispr to edit human genes.

    If you are a "bad actor" or simply careless, you could edit human genes that would become human beings and then potentially offspring.

    3. Gene editing can modify the human race through science: Permanent, inheritable characteristics.

    4. DNA was first identified in the late 1860s by Swiss chemist Friedrich Miescher

    5. Original genetic researchers had to be very patient

    They would mate flowers and animals and they would need to take years.

    6. Covid accelerated research by removing restrictions

    7. RNA is more important than DNA

    DNA does not do much but protect itself. RNA is what actually creates proteins and follows the instructions in the DNA. Crispr technologies work on RNA.

    8. Watson and Crick are well-known for DNA research but their ideas were based on work from Rosalind Franklin who correctly identified the double helix shape using x ray photography

    Sexism was rampant in the 20th century science community.

    She died of ovarian cancer at the age of 37, probably because of her experiments with radioactivity.

    9. A big break in the development of Crispr was from people interested in yogurt cultures.

    The market for yogurt cultures was worth $40 billion, and companies were interested in preserving them by protecting them from viruses. They thought that gene editing could be a solution.

    10. ethical considerations: super humans

    One of the inventors believes gene editing shouldn’t be held to a higher standard than any other medical procedure. However, a major concern is that if people can afford it, they could consistently engineer their genes to be taller, faster, fitter, and more intelligent, creating a significant gap between superhumans and non-superhumans. This could be an exciting premise for a science fiction novel where the twist could be that edited individuals eventually become hardly recognizable due to their mutations.

    11. ethical considerations: conflicts of interest

    When pure research, supported by academics and the government, collides with the financial interests of private parties, there are many ethical conflicts. This also reduces collaboration on the topic of disease.

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