Gene-Editing Makes Mutants More Easily, Sparks Debate

Scientists have developed a gene-editing technique known as CRISPR to create mutant organisms easily. The procedure, known as mutagenic chain reaction, uses genetic engineering to put a specific mutation in both copies of a gene associated with a particular trait. That gets around a cellular mechanism that usually keeps recessive mutations from being expressed. Mutagenic chain reaction, or MCR, makes desired mutations much easier. A desired mutation may be wanting a child to have blue eyes, even if one parent has brown. "MCR is remarkably active in all cells of the body, with one result being that such mutations are transmitted to offspring via the germline with 95 percent efficiency," study lead author Valentino Gantz, a graduate student at the University of California at San Diego, said. UCSD Professor Ethan Bier, the paper's co-author, said the technique has "several profound consequences." It could accelerate the pace of genetic research, and facilitate the rapid dispersal of genetically engineered traits.

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