Home / Science / “The Code Breaker”: How Jennifer Doudna and CRISPR will revolutionize humanity.

“The Code Breaker”: How Jennifer Doudna and CRISPR will revolutionize humanity.



When Jennifer Doudna Received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry last year.There is no black neck tie ceremony in Sweden. Due to the plague, she picked up a coin in her backyard.

Reporter David Pogue asked Doudna, “Let’s cut the really important thing: Where did you keep the Nobel?”

“Okay, tell the truth. I have a slightly framed miniature in my house and a real coin hidden in the safe,” she replied.

Doudna is a biochemist at the University of California, Berkeley. She and her associate Emmanuel Charpentier were awarded the Nobel Prize for their contribution to science in 201

2, often described as “Miraculous”: Gene Editing Techniques. It’s called CRISPR and its Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.

Pogue asks, what is it like in the real world, computers are software?

“It’s not a computer and it’s not software. If you look at it in my lab, you see a tube of colorless liquid,” Doudna said.

Two real tubes. The first group contains molecules that are designed to bind genes specifically in living cells, which are specific parts of DNA. Proteins in other fluids cut DNA at that point. “It’s like a zip code where you can locate it to find a specific location in the cell’s DNA and literally like a snip scissors,” Doudna said.

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DNA cuts like this are often Disabled Gene We can turn off genes that cause us to disease, or turn off genes that limit how much cashmere goats grow or how much beagle grows.

The next step is much more difficult: switching in files. Different DNA sequences are replaced by ones that we create ourselves, so we can do that. Rewrite gene Of any plant, animal or person

Walter Isaacson is the author of the best-selling book about Benjamin Franklin. Albert Einstein and Steve JobsHis latest “The Code Breaker” (published by Simon & Schuster, part of ViacomCBS) is about Jennifer Doudna and her work on CRISPR. ‘OK, biotechnology and CRISPR, it’s the most amazing thing that has happened in our time,’ ”Isaacson said. “And then I realized in the end that I was. Say less case.”

Simon & Schuster


Since Doudna published her paper in 2012, a lot has happened in the world’s CRISPR laboratory.Scientists have bred the more nutritious tomatoes and created gluten-free wheat. Clinical trials are underway to treat some cancers using CRISPR techniques.

These medical treatments show the greatest possible jaw reduction of CRISPR. Around 7,000 human diseases are caused by a gene mutation, which we can theoretically rule out. This includes muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease and sickle cell disease, a blood disorder that leads to debilitating pain, infection and pre-stroke death. Set It affects about 100,000 Americans, including Victoria Gray, a Mississippi mother of four, who became the first American to receive CRISPR-corrected gene therapy.

In the years since being treated with experimental therapy, she has not experienced severe pain or required hospitalization.

Of course, as with any revolutionary technology, it has a dark side with reconfigured human speculation. ‘Oh, what you’ve released is a designer baby!’ As people would say, ‘I want blonde, blue hair, super smart and muscular’ Is it real? ‘

Biochemist Jennifer Doudna

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“Well, yes, and no, most no,” Doudna replied. “We really don’t know what genes need to be modified for the traits you mentioned, and I suspect we’re talking about dozens more genes that need to be modified. Refine it. It is technically possible to do so. So challenging, I don’t think we are approaching the world of CRISPR children by ourselves.

“But it’s close enough in the sense that technology can basically enable this, I think it’s very important for us to talk.”

Isaacson said, “Most of the people who have studied it say you have to line between what is medically necessary – try to make sure people don’t get sickle cell anemia or Huntington – but it’s a blurry line. I mean If you’re trying to improve someone’s memory to make sure they don’t have Alzheimer’s, you will improve their memory as well.

There is also a difference between editing a person’s genes, such as Victoria Gray, and the changes that will be passed on to their children.

In 2018 Chinese doctors fix 3 Chinese infant embryos So that they and their offspring can resist the HIV virus Scientists around the world condemn him for cheating.

“In China, he was initially regarded as the first person to create the first designer babies,” Isaacson said. “But even though the Chinese were shocked by what he did, and eventually he was tried and under house arrest.”

Author Walter Isaacson (“The Code Breaker”)

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Since that event, Doudna has hosted a series of international conferences designed to underscore the ethical practices for using CRISPR to make arrangements before disaster strikes.

“Gene editing is a great technology that I think will eventually help many people around the world,” she said, “and for me, it’s more a management question.”

In the past year, some of the most prominent CRISPR laboratories, including Doudna’s, have turned to a different scientific focus of the Holy Grail: protecting us from COVID, starting with the cheap and fast COVID testing at home.

Doudna said, “I imagine there is little CRISPR-enabled devices so people can come to work, spit in pipes and in 30 minutes get a response telling them whether they need to be grounded or not.”

At the same time, scientists around the world are exploring CRISPR’s incredible potential to improve our lives.

Pogue asked Isaacson, “Do you think the biotechnology revolution will have as much scope and impact as the digital revolution?”

“I think the biotech revolution will take place 10 times. over It’s more important than the digital revolution because it allows us to hack the code of life, ”he replied,“ and we shouldn’t be afraid to use this technology to make ourselves healthier. ”


Read the EXCERPT book: “The Code Breaker” by Walter Isaacson


For more information:

  • “The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race” by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster) in hardcover, eBook and Audio format, available through Amazon and Indiebound.
  • Walter Isaacson, Tulane University
  • Doudna Lab, Berkeley, Calif.
  • Institute of Genomics Innovation, Berkeley, California
  • CRISPR Therapeutics, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Sarah Cannon, Nashville, Tenn.


Story produced by Mark Hudspeth, Editor: Steven Tyler.


See also:


Jennifer Doudna on Children’s Curiosity


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