CRISPR and gene drives

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jacob
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CRISPR and gene drives

Post by jacob » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:35 pm

https://www.cnet.com/news/the-crispr-ma ... e-species/

Gene drives seem like a particular dangerous invention. What could possibly go wrong? My first concern would be mutations. Sexual reproduction is a natural damper on mutations that's physically inherent in the process. With a gene drive this stabilizer is permanently eliminated. Second concern (out of my depth here) is whether plasmid exchange is possible ... could this make it into a random bacteria? What about zoonosis (and its reverse)?

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7Wannabe5
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Re: CRISPR and gene drives

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:46 pm

I read about this and other related research in "She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity." It has become so inexpensive to do this sort of work, I think it is a more likely candidate for 21st century innovation than continued developments in high hard tech. Ethical concerns will likely vaporize if, for instance, one of the world's primary calorie crops is at risk of collapse due to infestation.

Another fascinating thing I learned from this book is that when a female carries a fetus, some of the fetuses cells break loose and replicate within the mother. So, for instance, it is possible for an aging woman's brain to be patched/renewed by her child's younger genetic material.
Last edited by 7Wannabe5 on Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jacob
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Re: CRISPR and gene drives

Post by jacob » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:50 pm

Ethical issues be damned. I'm more concerned about unintended consequences ala the way invasive species have been deliberately introduced in Australia to "fix" problems only to create new problems. This has happened several times. With the gene drive, it would happen at a much deeper [cell] level.

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Jean
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Re: CRISPR and gene drives

Post by Jean » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:53 pm

If we create a better ecosystem that works without us, then we can disapear.

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7Wannabe5
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Re: CRISPR and gene drives

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:54 pm

Oh, I agree. I'm just predicting what I think will happen, not what I believe should happen.

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Re: CRISPR and gene drives

Post by Crazylemon » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:55 pm

Oh like all Genetic tinkering it has the potential to go horribly wrong.

I am not sure that I understand where you are getting at with your first concern. All the primary goals that are currently being planned are to cause infertility, this means any it stops mutations dead. Human designed mutations are already done with GMO and leak out in to the wild varieties now without a gene drive propagator but I can't see a gene drive being useful for GMO crops because you would be forcing everyone within a few crop generations to have exactly the same plan wether they paid for it or not as it spread through the population. (Unless you want to sell a patented product that a crop NEEDS to survive). Essentially Standard GMO risk on steroids.

Spreading to bacteria I suspecting not, given it relies on sexual reproduction to propagate.

My bigger concern is this sort of arrogance of assuming our pest species have no other role in the ecosystem. I think that the potential for accidentally causing ecosystem collapse because of overlooked systems effects is very likely.

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7Wannabe5
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Re: CRISPR and gene drives

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:09 pm

Yeah, off the top of my head. Mosquito collapse leads to bat collapse leads to surge in population of secondary bat prey species leads to collapse of something else.

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prognastat
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Re: CRISPR and gene drives

Post by prognastat » Tue Feb 12, 2019 5:26 pm

I think(as much as everyone hates mosquitos) it would be much better if we could make the mosquitos inhospitable to malaria(and possibly some of the other big diseases they carry) rather them entirely eliminating them.

Probably much harder to do(if it wasn't they probably would have done it), but much less of a chance for negative side effects down the line.

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Re: CRISPR and gene drives

Post by Augustus » Tue Feb 12, 2019 6:08 pm

I think I'm most concerned by some rogue dumb ass getting their hands on this technology. Not that unintended consequences aren't also scary as hell. But I'm thinking more along the doctor in China who recently used CRISPR on humans for personal fame/gain. Seems as if it's only a matter of time before some dumb ass does something that causes a lot of damage intentionally or unintentionally. It's scarier than nuclear weapons IMO, since those at least cost a lot of money, fall apart, and most importantly don't make babies.

How do you stop this from happening though? Cat is out of the bag. As a species we've only had the ability for 10-20 people to wipe out the entire species since the 1960s, that's what, 2 generations? Out of 6000+ generations (depending on where you draw the line)? Less .03% of our existence as a species.

It is depressing to contemplate. Hopefully we survive. I am of the opinion we need to become a multi planetary species in order to survive in the long term.

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Re: CRISPR and gene drives

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:13 pm

prognastat wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 5:26 pm
it would be much better if we could make the mosquitos inhospitable to malaria(and possibly some of the other big diseases they carry) rather them entirely eliminating them.
lol but what if the mosquitoes need malaria to ward off something else?

Turtles all the way down!

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Re: CRISPR and gene drives

Post by prognastat » Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:56 pm

@MI
Well that's why I specified there's much less of a chance for negative side effects rather than the guaranteed ones that come with eliminating them entirely.

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Jean
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Re: CRISPR and gene drives

Post by Jean » Wed Feb 13, 2019 5:23 am

But what are those child going to do? Many don't like their futur yet. They will come to europe where they won't like their futur either, create troubles, and then we have to kill them.

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Re: CRISPR and gene drives

Post by vexed87 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:03 am

Crazylemon wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:55 pm
My bigger concern is this sort of arrogance of assuming our pest species have no other role in the ecosystem. I think that the potential for accidentally causing ecosystem collapse because of overlooked systems effects is very likely.
This.

Ethical issues aside, if it's technologically possible, you can bet your bottom dollar eventually it will happen somewhere with lax rules, a rogue researcher, etc and the gene drive could find its way easily into the wild.

Anything that reduces diversity, even if it is initially tailored to combat specific diseases, will have long term unintended negative impacts. Gene drive could be abused for ethnic cleansing for instance.

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7Wannabe5
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Re: CRISPR and gene drives

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:27 am

It's not exactly right to describe the situation as turtles all the way down. If there were very many dependent variable actors within a system, change of state or regime would be omnipresent. The question is what is the threshold for change in regime, and would the change in regime be preferable for humans? If there are multiple actors serving the same functions, providing the same environmental services, as the mosquitoes then it is possible that even complete elimination of the species will not lead to regime change. OTOH, if the environmental services provided by the mosquitoes are critical and not replicated within the system, it is possible that reduction in population to level not close to approaching extinction would be enough to cross threshold of regime change.

Change in regime is roughly equivalent to irretrievable loss of previous equilibrium state.

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Re: CRISPR and gene drives

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Wed Feb 13, 2019 8:59 am

I just think a Michael Crichton style skepticism is healthy.

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Re: CRISPR and gene drives

Post by jacob » Fri Feb 22, 2019 9:27 am

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandso ... gh-securit

On the subject of lab security, this is an interesting [true] story.

Crazylemon
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Re: CRISPR and gene drives

Post by Crazylemon » Fri Feb 22, 2019 9:38 am

@Jacob

That story also brings to mind that the last person do die of smallpox was also from a lab outbreak.

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Re: CRISPR and gene drives

Post by Campitor » Fri Feb 22, 2019 10:20 am

Non-human DNA has found its way into our biology in the past. I don't trust science to keep that from happening with any artificially created DNA insertion molecule. I truly feel for these Africans that die from malaria but there has to be another way. Humans playing God lack the omniscience to determine the global effects of genetic tampering. They could be sowing the seeds of human extinction.

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Re: CRISPR and gene drives

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:03 am

Gene Drives are a a step way too far. Individual case-by-case analysis is reasonable, especially in genetic diseases such as malaria, but entire populations? That is too easy to mess and cause significant damage by accident, let alone by misanthropic actors.

However, a good chance someone is good to try and experiment with this system, so thankfully the genetic materials will not be able to spread as readily in other humans so if a pandemic were to happen, we can contain it in time.

I just hope we have self-sustaining lunar bases by then as humanity's back up.

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Re: CRISPR and gene drives

Post by jennypenny » Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:27 am

I'd love to see CRISPR technology used to treat genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease. I'd probably also support gene editing for diseases with a clear genetic predisposition, like with certain types of breast cancer. Beyond that, I dunno. Gene drives are frightening. It's pretty easy to envision countries using the technology to enhance certain traits they find valuable in their populations ... almost like the way the seven tribes in Seveneves reflected the values of their progenitors.

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