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A Crack in Creation summary

Jennifer A. Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg

Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution

4.6 (81 ratings)
22 mins

Brief summary

A Crack in Creation by Jennifer A. Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg is a revealing book on the CRISPR gene-editing revolution, including the science, the hype and its potential impact on humanity.

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    A Crack in Creation
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    Genetic modifications can occur naturally.

    For billions of years, life on Earth has evolved through random genetic variations, blossoming into an ornate display of biological diversity. This process has long been understood through the Darwinian principles of evolution, but today, scientists are turning conventional theories of evolution on their heads.

    In fact, a new age of biological mastery is dawning on us, and the author is a key player in this process; she made a decisive contribution to research that enabled the rational and intentional modification of the genetic code – no evolution necessary.

    The first thing to understand is that modifying the genetic code isn’t as unnatural as it might sound, and cases of natural “gene editing” do occur. For instance, in 2013, scientists at the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, were perplexed by one of their patients: Kim suffered from an obscure hereditary disease called WHIM syndrome. WHIM is a painful and potentially lethal immunodeficiency disorder brought on by a single “spelling mistake” in human DNA.

    Kim was diagnosed with WHIM in the 1960s, but when scientists observed her again in 2013, she was miraculously symptom-free. When the researchers took a closer look at Kim’s blood cells, they discovered that in one of her chromosomes, an incredible 35 million letters were missing in her DNA code and that the rest of her DNA was also in complete disorder.

    Their only conclusion was that a cell in Kim’s body had undergone a cataclysmic event known as chromothripsis, in which a chromosome suddenly explodes, rearranging the genes it contains. The chain of events brought on by this disruption erased the misspelling in Kim’s genetic code that was causing her illness and resulted in the total abatement of her symptoms.

    In other words, nature spontaneously and unintentionally “edited” Kim’s genome to the great benefit of her health. But what if such edits didn’t depend on improbable flukes or the whims of nature? What if science could reverse the often devastating effects of genetic misspellings and correct them to cure genetic disorders?

    Well, such questions have been the topic of a long-standing line of scientific inquiry that you’ll learn all about in the next blink.

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    What is A Crack in Creation about?

    A Crack in Creation (2017) describes everything you need to know about CRISPR, a new technique to alter the genes of living organisms. These blinks explain the scientific details of gene editing, while also discussing its medical and ethical implications.

    A Crack in Creation Review

    A Crack in Creation (2017) delves into the incredible world of CRISPR gene editing, exploring the science, ethics, and potential consequences of this groundbreaking technology. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With unparalleled expertise and firsthand experience, the authors provide a comprehensive and insightful exploration of CRISPR that is both fascinating and thought-provoking.
    • This book offers a balanced perspective, taking into account both the incredible potential and the ethical dilemmas of gene editing, making it a nuanced and important read.
    • Accessible and engaging in its approach, the book breaks down complex scientific concepts into understandable terms, making it enjoyable and enlightening for a wide range of readers.

    Best quote from A Crack in Creation

    Evolution had generated a virtual Swiss army knife to fight viruses.

    —Jennifer A. Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg
    example alt text

    Who should read A Crack in Creation?

    • Biologists, chemists and natural scientists
    • Philosophers and ethicists who wonder about the implications of gene editing
    • Anyone interested in the future of medical science

    About the Author

    Jennifer A. Doudna, PhD, is a professor of chemistry and molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a leading international expert on CRISPR biology and genome engineering.

    Samuel H. Sternberg, PhD, is a biochemist and the author of a number of high-profile scientific publications on CRISPR technology. He is the recipient of the Scaring Award and the Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award.

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    A Crack in Creation FAQs 

    What is the main message of A Crack in Creation?

    The main message of A Crack in Creation is the revolutionary CRISPR gene-editing technology and its ethical implications.

    How long does it take to read A Crack in Creation?

    The reading time for A Crack in Creation varies, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is A Crack in Creation a good book? Is it worth reading?

    A Crack in Creation is worth reading for its thought-provoking exploration of the potential of gene-editing technology and the ethical questions it raises.

    Who is the author of A Crack in Creation?

    Jennifer A. Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg are the authors of A Crack in Creation.

    What to read after A Crack in Creation?

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