With Amazon and Google already racing to store human DNA into the cloud, it is no surprise that CRISPR, an economically easy-to-use gene-editing technique, is growing in popularity. There are concerns, however, that experiments performed with CRISPR are leaving little time to address the "ethical and safety concerns such experiments can raise."
[...] The problem was thrust into the spotlight in April, when news broke that scientists had used CRISPR to engineer human embryos (see Nature 520, 593–595; 2015). The embryos they used were unable to result in a live birth, but the report2 has generated heated debate over whether and how CRISPR should be used to make heritable changes to the human genome. And there are other concerns. Some scientists want to see more studies that probe whether the technique generates stray and potentially risky genome edits; others worry that edited organisms could disrupt entire ecosystems.
“This power is so easily accessible by labs — you don't need a very expensive piece of equipment and people don't need to get many years of training to do this,” says Stanley Qi, a systems biologist at Stanford University in California. “We should think carefully about how we are going to use that power.”
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