IELTS reading: Gene Editing Technology

To understand the technique of skimming visit our blog post on reading strategy here.

The passage below is derived from the Wall Street Journal, April 29th, 2017. The questions are designed by the ELTEC team. You have 20 minutes to complete the 13 questions.

Why Gene Editing Technology has Scientists Excited?

  1. A new technology for “editing” defective genes has raised hopes for a future generation of medicines treating intractable diseases like cancer, cystic fibrosis and sickle-cell anaemia. Such drugs could home in on a specific gene causing a disease, then snip it out and, if necessary, replace it with a healthy segment of DNA.
  2. Drugs of this type wouldn’t hit the mass market for years, if ever; pharmaceutical firms are only now exploring how to make drugs using gene editing technology called Crispr-Cas9. But the approach offers tremendous potential for developing new treatments for diseases caused by a mutated gene.
  3. “What if you could go right to the root cause of that disease and repair the broken gene? That’s what people are excited about” says Katrine Bosley, Chief Executive of privately held Editas Medicine. Its projects include developing a gene-editing drug treating one type of Leber congenital amaurosis, a rare disease that causes blindness in children.
  4. Crispr-Cas9 isn’t the only technology capable of editing genes, but researchers consider it easier to use than other methods, says Dana Carroll, a professor of Biochemistry at University of Utah Schoold of Medicine, who helped pioneer another gene editing technology called Zinc Finger Nucleases.
  5. Among other efforts underway using Crispr-Cas9 technology, privately held Intellia Therapeutics, in partnership with Novartis AG, is probing how to create a gene editing drug that could harness the immune system to fight certain blood cancers. The two companies are also exploring the treatment of hereditary blood disorders such as sickle-cell anaemia.
  6. Intellia CEO Nessan Birmingham says drugs based on Crispr-Cas9 promise to complement the pills and biotech drugs currently available, targetting diseases that aren’t very well treated by existing therapies. “This is a new tool to target and treat disease,” he says.
  7. Industry and academic laboratories are also using the technology for more immediate effect: to genetically engineer mice and other animals so that they have human like diseases that researchers can then readily study.
  8. Using Crispr-Cas9 to make animal models “is much quicker, easier than other methods that have been available,” says Tim Harris, senior vice president of precision medicine Biogen Inc. The company is using the technology to study Amayotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, which has lacked good animal models.
  9. Crispr-Cas9 attracted notoriety in April when Chinese scientists reported trying to repair the genes that cause beta thalassemia in 86 human embryos obtained from a fertilization clinic. The work raised fears that gene editing could be used to tweak babies in many ways before they were born.
  10. Drugs companies say such ethical fears do not apply to their research using Crispr-Cas9 which they are conducting in non-reproductive cells, not embryos.

Question: Match the paragraphs with suitable sentences.

1. Ethical and moral issues related to Gene Editing Technology.

2. A targeted approach to cure diseases.

3. Developing animal models

4. Crispr-Cas9 technology is more convenient than other gene editing technologies.

Question: Yes/No/Not Given

5. Gene Editing Technology will be a permanent solution to all diseases.

6. Medicines for curing diseases by replacing genes will hit the market by 2020.

7. According to Katrine Bosley, the excitement about gene editing is due to the fact that it will replace all possibly mutated genes.

8. Caspr-Cas9 is the only way to replace broken genes.

9. Crispr-Cas9 technology will eliminate the need for drugs being used today for treating hereditary blood disorders such as Sickle Cell Anaemia.

10. Gene Editing Technology is being used to create organisms that have diseases similar to those of human beings.

Answer in not more than 2 words:

Gene editing technology is more successful in treating diseases like cancer than traditional medicine because it …..11……… the mutated gene. However, this technology is still under development. It is being used to …….12……… animal models. However, it is much easier to create animal models using one particular gene editing technology called …….13……. than others.

Please mention your answers in the comments section.

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Categories: reading

Tagged as: , , ,

2 replies »

  1. 1. 10
    2. 6
    3. 8
    4. 5
    5. No
    6. Not given
    7. no
    8. Not given
    9. Yes
    10. Not given
    11. Defective gene
    12. Make
    13. Crisp Cas9


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