CRISPR-Cas changing biology?
Eugene V. Koonin argues that fundamental research of CRISPR-Cas mechanisms has (among other things) illuminated “fundamental principles of genome manipulation.” Koonin's discussion provides important philosophical insights for how we should understand the significance of CRISPR-Cas systems. Yet the analysis he provides is only part of a larger story. There is also a human element to the CRISPR-Cas story that concerns its development as a technology. Accounting for this part of CRISPR's history reveals that the story Koonin provides requires greater nuance. I'll show how CRISPR-Cas technologies are not “natural” genome editing systems, but (in part) artifacts of human ingenuity. Furthermore, I'll argue that the story of CRISPR-Cas is not “primarily about research into fundamental biological mechanisms”, but is instead about the intertwining of applied and fundamental research programs.
KeywordsCRISPR-Cas systems Genome editing Biological technology Applied research
John Templeton Foundation.
- Koonin E (forthcoming) CRISPR: A New Principle of Genome Engineering Linked to Conceptual Shifts in Evolutionary Biology. Biol PhilosGoogle Scholar