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Science AMA Series: I’m Dr. Paul Knoepfler, back again to talk about CRISPR, human genetic modification & designer babies.AMA!
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Hi, I’m Paul Knoepfler, stem cell and genetics researcher, author, & blogger. You may have heard about the new gene editing/genetic modification technology called CRISPR. It is totally changing how we scientists genetically modified cells and even organisms. What used to take years and potentially millions of dollars can be done in weeks or months for a few thousand bucks. In my lab we use CRISPR to do research on stem cells and cancer. Others are doing similar work for a variety of other conditions, while some are making new GMOs in record time such as plants, super-muscled cows or micro pigs CRISPR is transforming the way we do some of our science, but at the same time it is raising difficult questions that require public education and debate. For instance, are we ready to make genetically modified people (what I call GMO sapiens as a mashup of Homo sapiens and GMO)? Is it OK to do this for trying to prevent genetic diseases? What about for human enhancement via designer babies? Could we draw the line between the two? How does this technology even work and what are the risks? Are past works of art like Brave New World and GATTACA now appropriate to discuss as human genetic modification appears to be marching toward reality? Or is that just going to scare people? What about eugenics turbo-charged by new technology? How do we find the right balance in discussion of this revolutionary issue so that we do not freak people out, but at the same time we have a real discussion that doesn’t sugar coat things or dodge real potential issues? There’s a lot to talk about so let’s dive in. You might want to check out my blog at http://www.ipscell.com and my new book on today’s topic, [GMO Sapiens: The Life Changing Science of Designer Babies](http://www.worldscientific.com/worldscibooks/10.1142/9542 You can also view my TED talk on human genetic modification and the possibility of designer babies.) You can also want follow me on Twitter @pknoepfler if you like for all the latest, I will be answering questions starting at 1 PM EST (10 AM PST, 6 pm UTC) Ask Me Anything!