A Crack in Creation Book Cover

A Crack in Creation

Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution
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Nothing ever since the invention of the atomic bomb has alarmed the scientific community so much, than that of the most effective, cheapest method of gene editing. This method is known as the CRISPR method, and it has the potential for curing genetic diseases and even cancer! Yet the ethical and societal repercussions of dabbling with the rules of creation are difficult to ignore. Writing with fellow researcher Sam Sternberg, Doudna – who has gone on to win the Nobel Prize for her CRISPR research – presents the exciting story of her discovery, and even dwells upon the issue of the enormous responsibility that comes with such immense power.

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Lesson 1. Introduction.

This book introduces the reader to the remarkable invention which allows humans to rewrite genetic code with great ease.

Gene editing opens up a fascinating world that one is exposed to only in movies and science fiction. Genetic manipulation can work wonders for mankind: curing of genetic diseases, improving the quality and yields of crops, and others. 

However, the book also sensitizes the reader to the dangers of this God-like power to modify creations of nature at will. We cannot enjoy the fruits of this fascinating discovery, without discussing the unprecedented dangers of misuse of such powerful technology.   

Lesson 2. Genetic modifications may occur naturally.

Life on earth has progressed through thousands of years via evolution, as Darwin’s principles explain. However today, mankind is standing on the cusp of a scientific breakthrough, whereby we no longer need to depend on evolution to modify life.

The world of gene editing has opened up vast possibilities for mankind. Doudna and Sternberg both have contributed to research in this field, which has enabled the intentional manipulation of genetic code possible, without the need of years and years of evolution. 

Gene editing is not something that is possible only through artificial means. In fact, it can be caused by natural means as well.

For instance, Kim was a patient of a rare hereditary disease called WHIM syndrome. It is caused due to a single ‘spelling mistake’ in the human DNA. Kim had been diagnosed with the disease in the 1960s. However, in 2013, scientists discovered to their surprise that Kim had stopped showing symptoms for the disease. 

When they studied Kim’s blood cells, they realized that in one of her chromosomes, as many as 35 million letters were missing from the DNA code. Moreover, the remaining DNA code too was in a state of disorder. 

Scientists could come up with only one possible explanation. One cell in Kim’s body had undergone something called chromothripsis, whereby a chromosome had suddenly exploded, thus rearranging the genes it contained. This had brought about a chain of disruption in the DNA code which had managed to erase the ‘misspelling’ causing the WHIM syndrome. Hence, Kim had stopped showing symptoms for the disease. 

This shows that nature too can ‘edit’ genes, like it happened in Kim’s case. Now let’s explore how intentional editing of the genetic code can be carried out to correct misspellings and cure diseases.  

Lesson 3. The discovery that led to the breakthrough in gene editing.

Before diving right into the world of gene editing and

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About the author

Jennifer A. Doudna Image

JENNIFER A. DOUDNA, Ph.D. is a professor in the Chemistry and the Molecular and Cell Biology Departments at the University of California, Berkeley, an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and a researcher in the Molecular Biophysics and Inte...

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Chapter List
  • Lesson 1. Introduction.
  • Lesson 2. Genetic modifications may occur naturally.
  • Lesson 3. The discovery that led to the breakthrough in gene editing.
  • Lesson 4. The CRISPR method of gene editing.
  • Lesson 5. The CRISPR method is an easy and cheap method of gene editing.
  • Lesson 6. Applications of the CRISPR method.
  • Lesson 7. Treatment of human genetic diseases using the CRISPR method.
  • Lesson 8. The ethical considerations surrounding gene editing.
  • Lesson 9. The future of gene editing.
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FAQs

In the summary of A Crack in Creation book, there are 9 key lessons. These lessons include:

  1. Lesson 1. Introduction.
  2. Lesson 2. Genetic modifications may occur naturally.
  3. Lesson 3. The discovery that led to the breakthrough in gene editing.
  4. Lesson 4. The CRISPR method of gene editing.
  5. Lesson 5. The CRISPR method is an easy and cheap method of gene editing.
  6. Lesson 6. Applications of the CRISPR method.
  7. Lesson 7. Treatment of human genetic diseases using the CRISPR method.
  8. Lesson 8. The ethical considerations surrounding gene editing.
  9. Lesson 9. The future of gene editing.

A Crack in Creation by Jennifer A. Doudna, Samuel H. Sternberg was published in .

Once you've completed A Crack in Creation book, We suggest reading out Understanding the Space Economy as a great follow-up read.

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