The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 17, Issue 1, Spring 2017

Paul Scherz
Pages 29-36

The Mechanism and Applications of CRISPR-Cas9

The recently developed CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology is transforming basic biomedical research, but it also may have therapeutic applications. This essay examines how the technology works, its possible applications in somatic and germline cell therapy, and the use of gene drives to control disease vectors like mosquito-borne illnesses. While potentially valuable, all of these applications present ethical problems, including the specific risks of unintentional mutations; pre-existing concerns over the relationship between biomedical technology, power, and procreation; and CRISPR’s unintended consequences for the environment.