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Would you change your genes if you could? As we confront the 'industrial revolution of the genome', the recent discoveries of CRISPR-Cas9 technologies are offering, for the first time, cheap and effective methods for editing the human genome. This opens up startling new opportunities as well as significant ethical uncertainty. Tracing events across a fifty-year period, from the first gene splicing techniques to the present day, this is the story of gene editing – the science, the impact and the potential. Kozubek weaves together the fascinating stories of many of the scientists involved in the development of gene editing technology. Along the way, he demystifies how the technology really works and provides vivid and thought-provoking reflections on the continuing ethical debate. Ultimately, Kozubek places the debate in its historical and scientific context to consider both what drives scientific discovery and the implications of the 'commodification' of life.
1. CRISPR, Cas and capitalists
2. The gene trade
4. We can play God in that cell
5. Modern Prometheus
7. Life in a bubble
8. To summon a Leviathan
9. A molecular fairytale
10. Secrets from a freshwater fish
11. Gene hackers
James Kozubek is a staff scientist at the Brigham and Women's Hospital with affiliation to the Broad Institute of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Kozubek is also an established journalist whose science writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Atlantic and Scientific American, amongst others.
"Kozubek [...] gives the general reader a solid introduction to the current state of affairs, as seen by its creators and those who are using it in research and commerce."
– George J. Annas, Science
"[...] as eye-witness to a revolution in reading and writing our own genomes, [Kozubek] has done a truly remarkable job of getting the nuances right, while dodging through the minefields between enthusiasm and easy dismissal. Provides a rich tapestry of insights into the scientific discovery, technology development and applications to many agricultural, environmental and medical problems which should matter deeply to all readers."
– George Church, Harvard University
"Over the last sixty years the vast enterprise of experimental biology has taken the world from complete ignorance of how complex organisms are created to a very detailed knowledge of the processes involved. Now we are entering a world in which we can manipulate these processes, even modifying the heredity of our species and all others. James Kozubek tells the story of how we came to this knowledge in a carefully woven fabric of presentation, starting with the most recent events and then delving back into the history. He focuses on the remarkable personalities involved and the controversies that have complicated the discovery process. It is a wonderful, rewarding and easily read book."
– David Baltimore, California Institute of Technology