TED talk about CRISPR:
Clear description, but an advertisement for Sloan-Kettering:
Article about the cost of CAR T-cell therapy:
Please read the readings linked to in the folder “Readings for week 11” as well as watching the
videos. Answers should range from 50 to 200 words. Students are to use their own words and
not copy text from another source unless specifically asked to. Make sure your response answers
the question asked. Some questions are opinion questions; there is no right or wrong answer, but
I want you to make it clear you have thought about the question being asked.
This week we’re focusing on genetic engineering. We’re going to talk specifically about one
technique, CRISPR/Cas, and one outcome of using this technique, CAR T-Cell technology.
1. We have been working with E. coli for as long as we’ve had microbiology. But CRISPR
was not discovered until the 1980’s and it was not engineered into a tool until the last
decade. Now it can be used to engineer life. How can understanding that bacteria that was
inside us all along had a very special tool help make an argument for preserving
ecological diversity? In other words, why is understanding the history of CRISPR a good
argument for trying to keep as many species on earth alive as possible?
2. CRISPR is an engineering tool where scientists, specifically Jennifer Doudna, saw a tool
that was designed for one purpose and realized it could be used for a more powerful
purpose. Name another example of a product that you know that had one purpose, but can
be used efficiently for another purpose. As an example (Do not use this example), vinegar
is a food product, but someone realized that it was a really useful cleaning tool.
3. CRISPR/Cas has been touted as a way to engineer almost any organism. There are a
couple things that limit our use of the tool. The limitations of CRISPR are mentioned
both directly and indirectly in both the Radiolab podcast and the video. Please name one
limit to when and where we can use CRISPR?
4. Please watch Ellen Jorgensen’s TED talk on CRISPR. People say CRISPR is cheap and
easy. Who are we talking about when we say it is cheap and easy? In other words, can
you use CRISPR/Cas? Who can use it cheaply and easily?
5. We will talk about CAR T-Cells in class, but please watch the videos. We’ll talk about it
more in depth in class. CAR T-Cells are T-Cells that are modified in order to fight cancer
instead of invading cells. In all the links, they never say the word gene or genetics. Can
you tell me how CAR T-Cells are related to genetics? What about CAR T-Cell therapy is
related to genes?
6. The last article I linked to was an article about the cost of CAR T-Cell technology. It was
estimated the price of such therapy could be $600,000-800,000, but the owner of the
technology is marketing it at $450,000. They chose to make it cheaper. Is this fair? What
does this say about how we use technology? This is an opinion question, so there is no
wrong answer, but I need you to think through this.
One of the best ways of proving you understand a concept is to explain it to someone else. In this
case, I want you to take the following vocabulary and define the terms, words, or phrases for me.
Definitions should not exceed 100 words each. Make sure you are using your own words in the
definition; do not copy them from another source. Words to be defined are BOLD and
For Week 10, we’re specifically talking about CRISPR/Cas and Car T-Cells in order to create an
introduction to the subjects of genetic engineering and human engineering.
Chimera (Do not tell me about the mythical animal)
Guide RNA (In regards to CRISPR)
Spacer DNA (In regards to CRISPR)