Week 8: Role of Plants

When you look at trees in parks or around busy cities, you focus on the aesthetic of it. How it brightens up your mood, how the smell of the trees opens up your airways, and how the green and colorful flowers break the visual block of the stone and brick buildings around you. What you DON’T think about, is the greater role of these plants.

Urban city planners intentionally include plants in their city plans for the following strategic reasons.

Ozone Layer

Week 8: What is CRISPR?

A “CRISPR” stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, which are the hallmark of a bacterial defense system that forms the basis for CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology. In the field of genome engineering, the term “CRISPR” or “CRISPR-Cas9” is often used loosely to refer to the various CRISPR-Cas9 and -CPF1 systems that can be programmed to target specific stretches of genetic code and to edit DNA at precise locations. 

Week 8: CRISPR and a Post-Antibiotic World

I found the videos on CRISPR that we watched in class to be very interesting. I had heard about CRISPR and CRISPR babies in particular, but it was fascinating to learn more in depth about the technology and its applications. Specifically I found it intriguing -- and I must admit, disturbing -- to see the actual products of genetic modification using CRISPR. The images of pigs lacking fat and muscle mass to the point where you could see ribs and beagles that look like body builders were shocking and seemed right out of a horror sci fi movie.

Different types of CRISPR

In class last week we discussed CRISPR. I had a previous journal entry talking about CRISPR babies for the HOX Zodiac week, so some of this may be redundant, but it's also a chance to delve into this topic further.

CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, and is a powerful gene editing tool. the CRISPR sequences are transcribed in RNA sequences (crRNA), which guide the system to a complementary sequence on the target DNA. The attached Cas9 enzyme then snips the DNA at that location , shutting the target gene off.

CRISPR: The Implications on Society and Nature

A few years ago, I vividly remember watching one of the many news stories featuring Dr. Jennifer Doudna (a key researcher associated with CRISPR gene editing) as she explained to the world what CRISPR technology can do. My family and I were captivated by her interview - gene editing was not an entirely new concept, but CRISPR technology meant it could almost effortlessly be done (“Game-Changing”).

Week 7: Life Editing

Last year Chinese scientist, He Jiankui, used the powerful technology of CRISPR to create genetically modified twin baby girls. The gene surgery was performed when the girls were just embryos to protect them from HIV. The father of the girls was HIV positive and wanted to protect his children. The doctor is now under investigation by Chinese law enforcement and other fellow scientists to review his claim that he did indeed change their DNA.


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