Scientists May Soon Be Able to Turn Off Pain with Gene Editing: Should They?

Scientists May Soon Be Able to Turn Off Pain with Gene Editing: Should They?

The CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tool could be used to "turn off" pain directly, raising ethical questions for society.

(Photo by Aliyah Jamous on Unsplash)


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Eleanor Hildebrandt
Eleanor Hildebrandt is a writer and researcher from Seattle. Her work has appeared in the Boston Review and Popular Mechanics. Follow her on Twitter at @ehhilde.
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The Friday Five: The plain solution to holiday stress?

In this week's Friday Five, research on how to improve your working memory, the plain old solution to stress, rise of the robot surgeon, tomato brain power, the gut connection to health after strokes - and more.

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The Friday Five covers five stories in research that you may have missed this week. There are plenty of controversies and troubling ethical issues in science – and we get into many of them in our online magazine – but this news roundup focuses on scientific creativity and progress to give you a therapeutic dose of inspiration headed into the weekend.

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Matt Fuchs

Matt Fuchs is the editor-in-chief of Leaps.org. He is also a contributing reporter to the Washington Post and has written for the New York Times, Time Magazine, WIRED and the Washington Post Magazine, among other outlets. Follow him on Twitter @fuchswriter.

Heart model

Elaine Kamil had just returned home after a few days of business meetings in 2013 when she started having chest pains. At first Kamil, then 66, wasn't worried—she had had some chest pain before and recently went to a cardiologist to do a stress test, which was normal.

"I can't be having a heart attack because I just got checked," she thought, attributing the discomfort to stress and high demands of her job. A pediatric nephrologist at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, she takes care of critically ill children who are on dialysis or are kidney transplant patients. Supporting families through difficult times and answering calls at odd hours is part of her daily routine, and often leaves her exhausted.

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Lina Zeldovich
Lina Zeldovich has written about science, medicine and technology for Scientific American, Reader’s Digest, Mosaic Science and other publications. She’s an alumna of Columbia University School of Journalism and the author of the upcoming book, The Other Dark Matter: The Science and Business of Turning Waste into Wealth, from Chicago University Press. You can find her on http://linazeldovich.com/ and @linazeldovich.