If you had sat down to dinner with a leading biotechnology entrepreneur around about 2008 0r 2010, the chances are he would have waxed lyrical about stem cell research. And rightly so. It has allowed tremendous advances in medicine-for example, in the treatment of damaged nerves and other tissues. Yet waiting in the wings, or bubbling under as they used to say in the old radio Hit Parade shows, was a new idea so revolutionary that it will transform life itself. We refer of course to the CRISPR “genetic scissors” discovered by Emmanuele Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna for which they have been jointly awarded a Nobel Prize. Quite right too, we say.
The story of what they did, mucking around with a new molecule called tracrRNA in an obscure bacterium called Streptococcus pyogenes is best read in the piece from The Conversation from Kalpana Surendranath of the highly prestigious University Of Westminster.( Plug: their languages department is pretty hot, too) For us at LSS the moral is deeper.
According to statistical research which we have done, women represent approximately 50% of the human population. If you systematically deny this half the right to education, and chain it to the kitchen, that’s half of your human potential lost at a stroke. No more CRISPR. No more epigenetics. Of course there are many societies and cultures that delight in the oppression of women, on the grounds that it makes for better social harmony, or the God has told them to do it. They should remember this: over time, they will be out competed by those groups that systematically cultivate their full human potential, which means the education of women above all.
As a coda we include a link to Wikipedia* to Mary Woolstonecraft’s pioneering Vindication of the Rights of Women. How proud she would be today of Charpentier and Doudna!
#nobelprize #crispr #epigenetics #womensrights #universityof westminster