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Disability Rights Activists Essay Discussion
Disability rights activitists claim “nothing about us without us.” Jillian Weise, a disability activist, is unconvinced of our current categorizations of cyborg and frustrated that some people take on its identity when it is not necessary. She says cyborgs are disabled people. Instead, “Tryborgs” are abled people who get enhancements that don’t require them for earthly survival.
Considering these orientations toward disability and CRIP theory, we turn our focus on CRISPR, the gene editing tool that is positioned to cure many modern diseases. For today’s session, read Weise’ s NYT article then the CRISPR article by Aparna Vidyasagar (also linked in the D2L Content folder). We will build understanding that synthesizes across the conversations of this session on disability (and robots for “social good”) and our previous session on medical robots.
In 2012, pioneering scientists Jennifer Doudna, from UC Berkeley, and Emmanuelle Charpentier, at Umea University Sweden, showed CRISPR could be hijacked and modified. Essentially, they’d turned CRISPR from a bacterial defense mechanism into a DNA-seeking missile strapped to a pair of molecular scissors. Their modified CRISPR system worked marvelously well, finding and cutting any gene they chose. Several research groups followed up on the original work, showing that the process was possible in yeast and cultured mouse and human cells
CRISPR may be the most precise way to cut DNA we’ve yet discovered, but it’s not always perfect. One of the chief barriers to getting CRISPR effectively working in humans is the risk of “off-target effects.” When CRISPR is tasked with hunting down a gene, it sometimes finds genes that look very similar to its target and cuts them, too. An unintended cut may cause mutations in other genes, leading to pathologies such as cancer, or it may have no effect at all — but with safety a major concern, scientists will need to ensure CRISPR acts only on the gene it’s intended to impact. This work has already begun, and several teams of researchers have tinkered with CRISPR/Cas9 to increase its specificity. To date, CRISPR work in humans has been confined to cells that don’t pass on their genome to the next generation. But gene editing can also be used to edit embryos and thus, change the human gene pool. In 2015, an expert panel of CRISPR scientists suggested that such editing — known as germline editing — would be irresponsible until consensus can be reached on safety, efficacy, regulation and social concerns.
These are particularly high stakes concerns over responsibility and care of the human genome, where the unintended consequences are complex and innumerable. Aparna Vidyasagar synthesizes these concerns into a few prominent questions:
Should we make changes that could fundamentally affect future generations without having their consent?
What if the use of germline editing veers from being a therapeutic tool to an enhancement tool for various human characteristics?”
Taking these questions and orientations toward disability, responsibility and our understanding of the importance and testing of medical robots from last session please complete these sentences concerning CRISPR
Use fortunately and unfortunately as the beginning of two paragraph(write more than 250 words total)
You may use links to resources to help your answers. Remember to cite and use a citation format. You will not be docked for poor formatting but you will be docked if you reference data or information about a topic that you did not collect yourself. You may also include additional questions in your answer.
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