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What is gene-editing technology and why should Christians care? A Conversation with Rev. Dr. Peter Kuhnert

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Starting next month, the Council’s Faith and Life Sciences Reference Group (FLSRG) will be hosting a two-part webinar series (English only) on CRISPR/Cas9, a gene-editing technology that is raising new possibilities and questions regarding the treatment of diseases. Register for these webinars on Eventbrite.

We asked FLSRG Co-Chair, Rev. Dr. Peter Kuhnert, to help us better understand this complex technology and why it should be on our radar as Christians in Canada. 

The CCC: What is CRISPR (in layman’s terms) and why is it important people familiarize themselves with it?

PK: CRISPR (pronounced “crisper”) is a new way for scientists to make simple, effective, and accurate changes to genetic material. It is shorthand for CRISPR/Cas9. The protein Cas9 acts as a kind of scissors and can be programmed to cut strands of DNA at a select target. This form of genome editing can have the effect of disabling a gene or repairing it.

The CCC: How might CRISPR be used in the future to improve the quality of people’s lives?

PK: Some diseases, like cystic fibrosis (an often-fatal lung condition) or hemophilia (a bleeding disorder), occur because of a simple change in a single gene. CRISPR offers a potential way to cure diseases that cause suffering for millions of people around the world, or even prevent them by disabling certain genes present in DNA.

>> To read the rest of this conversation, check out our February 2021 newsletter. Sign up here to receive future newsletters and features like this in your inbox.

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Rev. Dr. Peter Kuhnert is a family physician with over 30 years of clinical experience and an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada with 15 years of ministry experience. He is based in Waterloo and has served as Co-Chair of the Faith and Life Sciences Reference Group (FSLRG) since 2018.

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