The biologist talks about the contentious Crispr-Cas9 gene-editing technique, the merit of big pharma and the UK’s 100,000 Genomes Project

A new technique to alter DNA is offering humans the ability to take control of food, disease and our own reproduction as never before. The workhorse of this technology is Crispr-Cas9, often described as a pair of “molecular scissors”, which can be directed to a specific part of a genome and used to make changes ranging from deactivating a gene to correcting a genetic typo or even inserting new genetic material.

In her new book, Hacking the Code of Life, biologist Nessa Carey delves into the practicalities, ethics and controversies of the approach, including the recent claim that a Chinese researcher has applied the tool to human embryos, resulting in gene-edited babies who will pass their altered DNA on to following generations.

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