CRISPR/Cas: The bright and dark side of human genome editing

During the last decade, the CRISPR/Cas9 precision genome editing technology has been rapidly adopted by the scientific community and industry for a wide range of applications. The possibility to use a short RNA molecule to guide the Cas9 nuclease to any specific location in the genome and make very specific modifications to the DNA truly revolutionised genetic engineering. CRISPR/Cas9 already made major contributions to scientific research, from making specific mutant and knock-out cell lines, introducing reporter sequences into the genome and performing whole-genome genetic screens. Also in agriculture, CRISPR/Cas9 has proven its value for crop optimisation and plant modification. Finally, CRISPR/Cas9 has the promise to revolutionise medicine by gene therapy. The possibility to correct specific genetic defects can be used to cure patients. First clinical trials based in the CRISPR/Cas9 technology are already running.

But CRISPR/Cas also poses potential hazard. By making incisions in the DNA, the Cas9 enzyme causes DNA damage that can potentially lead to genome instability. Especially, off target incision might be a threat for human health and may cause hereditary effects. During the symposium, various scientists will give an overview of the CRISPR/Cas technology, the fantastic possibilities that the technology provides, but also discuss the potential risks. Furthermore, regulators will share their view on how to regulate safe use of the technology and the potential ethical issues will be discussed.

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Program: draft program_DEMS_BEMS_2019_v2

Flyer: Bems-Dems-flyer-2019-v2

Location: Biopartner Center Leiden, Auditorium Gebouw 1, JH Oortweg 21, Leiden:,4.464633,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x47c5c71fc37b7e4b:0xe187e773ebeda113!8m2!3d52.1686106!4d4.4648562

We are looking forward to welcome you on 15 October in Leiden.

On behalf of the Belgian and Dutch Environmental Mutagen Society.

Lode Godderis, president of the BEMS

Giel Hendriks, president of the DEMS