By Steven Withrow
Human beings now have the technology to rewrite our genetic codes and the codes of every organism on Earth.
What is more, this technology has been around for billions of years—bacteria naturally evolved it as a mechanism to fight off viral invaders—only to be discovered in the early 2000s by researchers working for a Danish yogurt culture company.
The gene-editing technology is an enzyme called Cas9, or CRISPR associated protein 9, and it has already caused a paradigm shift in how basic and clinical research is being conducted in the biological sciences worldwide. But the possibilities for its use are, to put it plainly, nearly limitless.
Photo: An expert panel takes audience questions after the screening of the documentary film “Human Nature” in MBL’s Lillie Auditorium. From left: Jean-Francois Formela, partner at Atlas Venture, a biotech firm based in Cambridge; George Daley, dean of Harvard Medical School; Regina Sobel, editor and co-writer of the film; and Marine Biological Laboratory Distinguished Scientist Ronald Vale, who organized a meeting a MBL in 2016 that led to the film’s creation. The film was screened by Woods Hole Film Festival as part of its Film & Science Initiative. Credit: Steven Withrow/Falmouth Enterprise