Alexander Says Gene Editing Technology, When Used Properly, Has The Potential To Transform Human Health

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander on Tuesday said that “gene editing technology, like CRISPR-cas9, has the potential to transform human health, when used properly.”

He said, “CRISPR is a form of gene editing that essentially uses molecules that can be targeted to act as scissors to cut and edit genes. In a way, it is like cutting and pasting in a computer document. That may be an oversimplification, but this technology is less expensive, more precise, and more readily available to scientists all over the world than other gene editing technologies.

“The most widespread use until now has been in agriculture, to create disease-resistant wheat and rice, and modify tomatoes and soybeans to improve yields. CRISPR’s use in humans is more recent, but the possibility of the diseases it could treat and the lives that could be improved is remarkable.

“This includes diseases that currently have limited treatments or cures. Researchers see the possibility of treating blood diseases and sickle cell disease, improving the amount of time immune cells are active in fighting tumors, or even identifying, and then treating, a predisposition to Alzheimer’s.

“While CRISPR has amazing potential, it is not hard to see how we can quickly get into societal and ethical issues. The technology could lead to permanent changes to the human genome, and there is even the possibility of making changes in embryos to create so-called ‘designer babies.’ And in the hands of our adversaries, CRISPR poses national security concerns through the potential to produce new biological weapons.

“Part of our job on this committee is to learn about new technologies, to lead discussions with experts about the implications of these scientific advancements and to ensure that the National Institutes of Health and others have the proper authority to oversee and conduct research.”

The committee held a hearing on Tuesday on CRISPR to learn more about the technology from expert witnesses. Witnesses included Dr. Matthew Porteus, associate professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University; Katrine Bosley, chief executive officer and president of Editas Medicine; and Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics at John Hopkins School of Public Health.

Alexander’s full remarks are here. 



YMCA Begins New Program To Combat Childhood Obesity

The YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga will begin offering Healthy Weight and Your Child, a pilot program designed to empower children between the ages of 7-13, with the support from their families, to reach a healthy weight and live a healthier lifestyle.  It will begin on March 20.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity now affects ... (click for more)

Free Smoking Cessation Course Begins March 5 At CHI Memorial

CHI Memorial’s Rees Skillern Cancer Institute offers a free seven-week Freedom From Smoking program that begins March 5.  The program helps participants learn how to beat tobacco addiction, lifestyle changes that make quitting easier, stress management, how to avoid weight gain and how to stay smoke-free for good.   "Freedom From Smoking is an American Lung Association ... (click for more)

City Officials Believe Fish Kill In Small Creek In Hixson Is Related To Weather Changes

City officials said they believe a fish kill in a Hixson Creek is related to weather changes. Officials said, "The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is presently investigating the cause of the large numbers of dead fish seen in a wet weather conveyance that runs into the Tennessee River. At this point, officials believe that the cause is related to weather   occurrences earlier ... (click for more)

East Ridge Council Approves Funding For $2.3 Million Camp Jordan Upgrade; Christopher Harris Chosen As Administrative Hearing Officer

The city of East Ridge is continuing to make improvements and upgrades in the city’s appearance and facilities. At the Jan. 11 city council meeting, approval was given for moving forward to make improvements at Camp Jordan Park. This overhaul for the 40-year-old park includes upgrades to restrooms, concessions, fencing, bleachers, grading baseball and softball fields, turfing the ... (click for more)

Reflections On Billy Graham

Sandra and I are saddened this morning after learning of the death of Billy Graham. We rejoice today, because Mr. Graham once said "It will be reported that Billy Graham has died, but that won't be the truth. He said the truth is that he had only moved to a new location".  I remember when we named 15th Street as Billy Graham Avenue, his daughter Gigi came for the dedication ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: We’re The Angriest State

WalletHub, a financial-health website that has found it can draw a lot of attention by ranking the states on which is “fattest,” smartest, and so forth, has just announced its “sinful” rating and Tennessee churches should be ashamed of the job they are doing in making the Volunteer State a haven for puritans. Then again, our tourism may soon explode … remember Sodom & Gomorrah. ... (click for more)