In 2018 the world woke up to gene editing with a storm of controversy over twin girls born in China with genetic changes deliberately introduced by scientists – changes they will pass on to their own offspring. Although genetic modification (GM) has been with us for 45 years now, the new system known as CRISPR or gene editing can manipulate the genes of almost any organism with a degree of precision, ease and speed that we could only dream of ten years ago. Applications range from increasing yields of food crops to wiping out invasive species. But is it ethical to change the genetic material of organisms in a way that might be passed on to future generations? If a person is suffering from a lethal genetic disease, is it unethical to deny them this option? Who controls the application of this technology, when it makes ‘biohacking’ – perhaps of one’s own genome – a real possibility?
Nessa will guide us through this cutting-edge technology that will radically alter our futures and the way we prevent disease.
Nessa Carey is a British biologist working in the field of molecular biology and biotechnology. She is International Director of the technology transfer organisation PraxisUnico and a Visiting Professor at Imperial College London. She is the author of "The Epigenetics Revolution", "Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome" and "Hacking the Code of Life: How gene editing will rewrite our futures".