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July 17, 2018

Disability Rights Activists Raise Concerns Over Genetic Editing for Autism

  • Science
  • Other
  • Genetics/Genomics
  • Nanotechnology
  • Neuroscience

The Globe Post – Bioethicists and disability rights activists are concerned about new genetic alteration techniques that may allow scientists to edit out autism traits. 

Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center injected mice with DNA chains containing the code for fragile X syndrome, a type of autism. They then utilized CRISPR-Gold gene editing and measured a significant drop in “exaggerated repetitive behaviors,” such as excessive digging and leaping. Both are typical symptoms of autism in mice.

The new technique can revolutionize the way scientists perform gene-editing by injecting gold nanoparticles directly into the brain, as opposed to using viruses as vehicles for the Cas9 editing enzyme. The local effects observed by the researchers open the door to an entirely new use for CRISPR: genetic alteration inside the adult brain.…

Bioethicists and disability rights activists worry that genetic editing for developmental disorders such as autism is expressively ableist. Thomas Shakespeare, Professor of Disability Research at the University of East Anglia told The Globe Post, “Autism comes in different varieties, much of it is harmless and possibly even advantageous in today’s world.”

Read more at The Globe Post.