The strange genetic twist in Campbell's tomato soup

New research solves a long-standing puzzle.

Image source: Velho Junior/Shutterstock
  • Breeders found a genetic tweak that made tomatoes easier to pick, but they didn't grow as well.
  • Modern technology has revealed an ancient surprise hidden in the fruit.
  • New research showcases how much we're still learning about crop gene editing.
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Surprising Science

CRISPR-edited babies born in China may have enhanced brain functions

The brains of two genetically edited babies born last year in China might have enhanced memory and cognition, but that doesn't mean the scientific community is pleased.

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  • In November, Chinese scientist He Jiankui reported that he'd used the CRISPR tool to edit the embryos of two girls.
  • He deleted a gene called CCR5, which allows humans to contract HIV, the virus which causes AIDS.
  • In addition to blocking AIDS, deleting this gene might also have positive effects on memory and cognition. Still, virtually all scientists say we're not ready to use gene-editing technology on babies.
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Surprising Science

Chinese scientist vanishes after claiming to have made first gene-edited babies

The controversial scientist He Jiankui is currently missing after causing major controversy in late November.

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  • He Jiankui caused international controversy by claiming to have used the CRISPR gene-editing tool to modify the genes of two babies.
  • Some reports suggested he was being held under house arrest, though others say that's inaccurate.
  • It's not unusual for people to disappear in China at the hands of government authorities.
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Politics & Current Affairs

CRISPR co-inventor responds to claim of first gene-edited babies

Big Think expert Dr. Jennifer Doudna, a professor at UC Berkeley and co-inventor of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology, issued a statement responding to a scientist's recent claim that he helped create the world's first genetically edited babies.

  • On Sunday, a Chinese scientist claimed the world's first genetically edited babies had been born in China.
  • The scientist claims to have used gene-editing technology on the babies' embryos.
  • Dr. Doudna said scientists should confine "the use of gene editing in human embryos to cases where a clear unmet medical need exists."
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Surprising Science
Image: Biswarup Ganguly
  • The eggs contain an antiviral protein called human interferon beta.
  • This protein is known to combat some forms of cancer and other conditions.
  • The unusual technique could one day provide cheaper and more effective treatments.
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