Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Dr James Davies from our MRC Molecular Haematology Unit writes in The Conversation about genome editing, its power for good... and the ethical issues that we are already facing.

We are entering a new era as a species. For the first time, we are not only able to read our genetic code but also edit it. This will revolutionise our ability to treat disease and it will improve the lives of millions if not billions of people. But it means that, if we want to, we can now edit human embryos to “improve” the characteristics of our children. We will be able to create designer babies and these changes will be passed on to their descendants, which will change the human species forever.

It is worth thinking about the scale of what we can now do. The human genome is made up of 3 billion characters, which is about ten times the size of Encyclopaedia Britannica. This contains all the information needed to make a human, and it determines nearly all our characteristics as individuals (not only height, athletic performance and IQ but also our personality and even political views). We completed the first sequence of the human genome around 20 years ago at a cost of US$2.7 billion. We can now sequence a genome for less than the cost of an MRI scan.

Read the full piece here.

Similar stories

Project funding for personalised childhood cancer treatments

Funding from the Azaylia Foundation will support the Scientific Advances for Infant Leukaemia (SAIL) programme.

MRC National Mouse Genetics Network Research Clusters Announced

Claus Nerlov and Steve Twigg from the MRC WIMM join the new national network for disease modelling.

RDM announces new Principal Investigators

Dr Stephen Twigg has been announced as one of eight new Principal Investigators by the Radcliffe Department of Medicine.

Patient priorities guide Oxford Myeloma research

Medical staff in Oxford are partnering closely with Myeloma patients to help set priorities for future research.

From ‘Ew, gross!’ to ‘Wow!’: Scientists bring immunology to the classroom

For British Science Week, members of the MRC WIMM visited a local Oxfordshire primary school for an interactive science day – one of the first of its kind since the start of the pandemic.