Charleston Reading Circle shares book reviews | Entertainment

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CHARLESTON — The Charleston Reading Circle met Dec. 10 via Zoom. The program consisted of a book review.

Judy James reviewed “The Code Breaker – Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing and the Future of the Human Race” by Walter Isaacson.

The title of the book suggests that “The Code Breaker” is a biography of Jennifer Doudna, winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In reality, it is the story of a phenomenon called CRISPR found in bacterial cells in their struggle to prevent their destruction by viruses. .

The book tells how a diverse group of scientists from around the world, with Doudna as one of the main participants, discovered how bacteria do it. The author describes the competition between scientists during this quest.

This knowledge has been harnessed in the ability to alter or alter the genetic makeup of any organism, including humans. This could provide cures for a variety of disorders or even prevent unwanted traits from being passed on to future generations.

From the research, therapies for sickle cell anemia and a few other disorders have been developed. A currently important consequence of this research is the production of tests and vaccines against the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19, and the potential is there for rapid production of vaccines to counter future viral infections.

Jennifer Doudna likely caught the attention of the American people when she publicly discussed the moral issues surrounding gene editing. Do we allow germline editing, which has the ability to remove a faulty gene from an embryo, replacing it with a normal gene, so that the child and all its descendants will be spared a debilitating disorder , or is it “playing God”? Who’s deciding ? These are questions we will face in the near future.

The next Charleston Reading Circle meeting will be at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, January 21.

For more information, contact Mary Jorstad at 217-871-5129.

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