Volume 17, Issue 1, Spring 2017
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.