Advances in Genetics: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

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Advances in Genetics: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Meet Helen Obando, a Hispanic sixteen16-year-old who is now featured in a new TV series from The New York Times because she is the youngest person in the U.S. to have her DNA reset in an attempt to cure her sickle cell disease, a genetic blood disorder that can cause strokes, organ damage, and intense pain. Gene therapies, in general, are advancing and CRISPR/cas 9 has been used in different laboratories in the U.S. and abroad. In August 2017 scientists fixed a heart disease mutation in human embryos using CRISPR/cas 9. A little more than one year later, a Chinese scientist claimed that he created the world’s first genetically edited babies using the same method. Now we know that there are consequences of using CRISPR/cas9. The reality presented in the 1997 sci-fi movie GATTACA is no longer distant from our current lives and more than ever genetics advancements have social, ethical, and political consequences. What are the consequences for your identity? Do you really know who you are: are you familiar with genetic tests, such as 23andme? How much do you want to know? How much do you want others to know about your genetic profile? While most Americans are optimistic about the use of genetic information to improve health, many are concerned that genetic information may be used by insurers and employers to deny, limit or cancel their health insurance and to discriminate against them in the workplace. How has genetics changed the food you eat? Are you familiar with the science behind genetically modified foods and how countries see them differently? Did you know that your food has always been genetically modified? In this course, we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a new era where genetic information is part of our daily lives and may drastically change the choices you make and how they will impact your life.