Risk Talk on CRISPR: Hacking the biological hard drive

26 Sep 2017

Location: Rüschlikon/Zurich, Switzerland



Tuesday 26 September 2017


Registration and welcome coffee


Welcome and introduction
Christoph Nabholz, Head R&D Life&Health, Swiss Re


Copy paste: The new age of genome editing
Wilhelm Gruissem, Professor for Plant Biotechnology, ETH Zurich


CRISPR commercialisation and potential impact on life insurance
Thomas Wildhaber, Analyst, Swiss Re


Panel discussion
Christoph Nabholz, Head R&D Life&Health, Swiss Re

Alessandro Blasimme, Health Ethics and Policy Lab, ETH Zurich
Wilhelm Gruissem, Professor for Plant Biotechnology, ETH Zurich
Thomas Wildhaber, Analyst, Swiss Re


Networking and refreshments

This event may be photographed, filmed and/ or recorded. A summary of the event, pictures and/or a video of the event in which you may appear may be posted and made available on Swiss Re’s and the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue’s internal and external websites and in printed materials.


Photos by: Wolfgang Jastrowski

About the event

In 2012, researchers identified a new markers-free gene editing mechanism. This exciting new gene technology, CRISPR, revolutionises scientific work currently being undertaken in academia and industry. The CRISPR technology allows for a highly efficient and precise gene editing process. In humans, the technology is already successfully being used to manipulate immune cells, allowing them to get reprogrammed to recognise cancer cells. Several of such cell therapy approaches are either planned or currently tested in US clinical trials.

Furthermore, CRISPR technology could be a powerful tool for curing genetic diseases at embryonic stage, which will have an effect on offspring. Recent publications in China demonstrated successfully its application to human embryonic stems cells. The treatment of embryonic stem cells, which potentially could lead to genetic manipulated offspring, raises significant ethical questions and legal actions. In Switzerland, for example, embryonic gene manipulation is prohibited by law.

Although the success rate of the technology is very high, we have yet to establish a completely failure-free procedure. However, this new technology will surely have a significant impact on future human disease treatment strategies.