It's been almost two years since we learned about CRISPR, a ninja-assassin-meets-DNA-editing-tool that has been billed as one of the most powerful, and potentially controversial, technologies ever discovered by scientists. In this episode, we catch up on what's been happening (it's a lot), and learn about CRISPR's potential to not only change human evolution, but every organism on the entire planet. Out drinking with a few biologists, Jad finds out about something called CRISPR. No, it’s not a robot or the latest dating app, it’s a method for genetic manipulation that is rewriting the way we change DNA. Scientists say they’ll someday be able to use CRISPR to fight cancer and maybe even bring animals back from the dead. Or, pretty much do whatever you want. Jad and Robert delve into how CRISPR does what it does, and consider whether we should be worried about a future full of flying pigs, or the simple fact that scientists have now used CRISPR to tweak the genes of human embryos. This episode was reported and produced by Molly Webster and Soren Wheeler. Special thanks to Jacob S. Sherkow. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
Nick Sireau’s sons have a rare genetic disease called alkaptonuria, which can lead to body tissues becoming brittle, causing life long health issues.In this Podcast Extra, Geoff Marsh speaks to Nick and to the physician Dr Lakshminarayan Ranganath about their search for a treatment for alkaptonuria.
We chronicle the epic struggle to get drugs that treat very rare diseases on the market, and the unintended consequence of that fight, which affected the cost of all kinds of drugs. This is a strange story that involves a hit 70s TV show, a fake march on Washington, a courageous advocate, a carnival concessions wholesaler, and a new drug law that helped a lot of people, made drug companies billions of dollars, and opened a whole can of worms. Adapted from the new podcast An Arm and a Leg by Dan Weissmann Orphan Drugs
This week we have stories on what body cams reveal about interactions between black drivers and U.S. police officers, the world’s oldest Homo sapiens fossils, and how modern astronomers measured the mass of a star—thanks to an old tip from Einstein—with Online News Intern Ryan Cross. Sarah Crespi talks to Eyal Ben-David about a pair of selfish genes—one toxin and one antidote—that have been masquerading as essential developmental genes in a nematode worm. She asks how many more so-called “essential genes” are really just self-perpetuating freeloaders? Science Careers Editor Rachel Bernstein is also here to talk about stress and work-life balance for researchers and science students. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Chris Burns/Science; Music: Jeffrey Cook]