The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race, In early November 2018, twin girls — Lulu and Nana — were delivered by caesarian section in a Chinese hospital. Their birth probabably would have gone unnoticed outside of the family except for one factor: They were the world’s first gene-edited babies.
A Chinese scientist, He Jiankui, edited their embryos ostensibly in an effort to protect them from being infected with the HIV virus, using a gene editing tool called CRISPR. The announcement of designer babies was met with horror and outrage, particularly in the scientific community.
He lost his job and was sentenced to three years in prison. These potential, and far-reaching, consequences of gene-editing technology are themes running through Walter Isaacson’s new book The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race. Coming in at nearly 500 pages, the book dives into the essence of life and the heady world of genomes and genetic coding, or what Isaacson calls “the third great revolution of modern times,” following the atom, and the bit which led to the digital revolution. For the uninitiated — those folks who cannot tell their […]