Embracing Our Genetic Future
The Unstoppable Rise of Human Enhancement Technologies
Nature is at equal parts brilliant, complex, and incredible, but also dangerous deadly, and dumb, and I think we sometimes need to acknowledge that duality that exists in most things in this life. It has given us amazingly complex things like our brains, our bodies, and their capacity to sustain, repair themselves, and overcome illnesses and just the upkeep and the incredible machinery that is a human body (and other complex animals as well) but on the other hand, it has very dumb things like our kneecaps, genetic mutations, and genetic diseases that can destroy a human life, and bring suffering to the individual whos afflicted by it and their families as well.
Luckily, advances in different genetic modification tools such as CRISPR are advancing – thanks to a boost in its developments thanks to AI– and coming to a watershed moment where technological development and societal acceptance will reach a breaking point where humanity might finally embrace more and more its genetic freedom and take the reigns of our genetic destiny, breaking away from the shackles of our biology. Also, we are developing an appropriate and ethical legal framework for these technologies and their applications which will focus on an ethical uplift of human genetics.
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My genes are Crisp but they could be CRISPR
As a quick reminder, CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, that’s a mouthful) is a revolutionary gene-editing technology that enables scientists to modify DNA sequences and gene function with high precision. It works by using a protein called Cas9, guided by a custom RNA sequence, to cut DNA at a specific location, like scissors at a specific spot compared to other gene editing tools we had before that worked more like trying to cut a sheet of paper with a sharp axe. This allows for the removal, addition, or alteration of sections of the DNA sequence. CRISPR has transformed genetic research, offering potential applications in treating genetic disorders, improving crops, and combating disease, and also gives us a way to fight against the yoke of biology.
And this might sound a little bit sci-fi for some of you but we’ve had this technology for years now so much so that there have already been given our Nobel prizes for this 3 years ago for the discovery of this technology in the early 2010s. And we can see how this technology has been advancing perfecting itself and being a key weapon in the fight against a series of genetic diseases. So much so that a report by the Innovative Genomics Institute provides a comprehensive update on CRISPR clinical trials as of this year and I highly suggest you should check it out if this rocks your boat. This report highlights so much cool work being done for potential therapies for various diseases such as sickle cell disease, beta thalassemia, cancer, hereditary angioedema, and others that I have no idea what they mean but they sound nasty.
So we already have this incredible tool for genetic modification on everything that has DNA inside of it so we could be working in so many creative and beautiful ways to develop new crops that could better survive the ravaging effects of the climate crisis and allow people to not starve to death across the planet when the food supply will be inevitably impacted by it. Also, we can see how CRISPR could help us develop organic solutions for the climate crisis with carbon capture crops this technology has opened the doors on how humanity can relate to and modify the organic world and we are just getting started with so many more great and beautiful things will be coming down the pipeline no doubt.
AI in Genetics: More Than Just a Byte-Sized Contribution
As we’ve previously discussed AI will have a huge impact in the scientific fields thanks to its speed and capacity for understanding, and the emergent properties that we have seen when AIs become larger and more powerful. So without a doubt, AI will be working alongside CRISPR and other gene editing technologies helping humanity in their pathway towards genetic freedom. From analyzing data to identifying patterns that we cannot see in unfathomable amounts of data, AI is poised to become a great ally in genetics research – and then again in most human endeavors let's not forget– Some specific examples that we can see applications of AI in gene therapy and research could be as follows:
Clinical Trial Predictions: AI is adept at forecasting the effectiveness and safety of gene therapies by merging various data types. It creates models to predict the results of treatments and fine-tune procedures, thereby improving patient outcomes reducing costs for clinical trials, and accelerating the go-to-market of various treatments and therapies.
Personalized Medicine: AI contributes to custom treatment plans by evaluating genomic data and pinpointing genetic variations linked to diseases. It aids in creating specific gene therapy strategies and forecasting individual treatment results. Also, it allows for the ongoing monitoring of patient information through various information sources effectively providing an ongoing medical checkup and detecting patterns and potential anomalies in your health indicators. Getting custom-made treatments and diagnostics.
Target Area Identification and Validation: AI algorithms are instrumental in pinpointing and confirming the therapeutic value of potential gene targets by analyzing extensive genomic and molecular data. This process facilitates the discovery of new gene candidates and assessing their appropriateness for gene therapy treatments.
Optimizing Gene Delivery: AI is crucial in refining gene delivery mechanisms and avoiding any potentially harmful gene splicing or wrong insertion of genes into the patient’s genome. AI-based computational modeling and simulations are employed to improve the effectiveness, safety, and precision of these gene delivery techniques.
These are somewhat “mild” developments and techniques because of course, we could be talking about advances in the identification of new drugs using AI potential genetic modifications and expressions of specific areas of the human genome that could have positive effects on human health but that haven’t been conducted or tested yet for ethical and safety concerns.
Luckily we’ve already had clinical trials for gene therapy with promising results that have shown the power and effectiveness to treat certain conditions using these genetic modification therapies. For those who don’t remember gene therapy is like a clever trick where a virus, which usually causes sickness, is turned into a helpful tool. Scientists change the virus's genetic material, so instead of causing disease, it carries a special set of genetic instructions. When this modified virus enters a person's body, it doesn't make them sick. Instead, it delivers these instructions to the body's cells. These instructions can fix or change genes in a way that helps treat or even cure certain illnesses.
Public Opinion's Turn
But just as this technology advances we have to be aware of how much of a sensitive topic genetic modification is for most people and societies. And yes I am all down for genetic modification as you can see by reading this and previous articles I’ve written about this topic. But how will society at large respond to this technological breakthrough, because, even though the benefits and the reduction of human suffering that could come from more genetic editing in humans are great, it's understandable that people might be a bit reluctant.
Especially considering the dark implications and associations that gene editing could come with eugenics and other rather nasty ideas of the antiquated past. But luckily new research has shown that actually, almost 46% of the US population thinks gene editing is not a moral issue (and 24% believe it is morally acceptable) when asked if they would have their children or themselves under gene therapy to achieve higher results in their education. This is a very shocking result because it is the acceptance of gene editing not for a life-threatening ailment or genetic disease where a person has no choice over it but for a more “frivolous” end (comparatively speaking)
This piece of news fills me with the optimism of a future where more and more people will embrace not only the idea of gene editing but will be open to doing it to themselves and their children so that they can have a better life with fewer diseases or other hindrances that are outside of their control and even enhance and increase their probabilities of living a better life with better academic results and a wider realm of possibilities in their future.
Transcending Biology: More Than Just a Gene-ius Idea
This is the core of what I mean when I say genetic freedom for humans to no longer be shackled by our biology as the ruler over our health, over our capacity to learn and feel and experience this world to the limitations of our biology but we can break free from those limitations and go beyond what we got at birth. Go beyond diseases that afflict us without us doing anything wrong but just by the fact of being born.
And it is in the pursuit of transcending our biological boundaries, CRISPR emerges as a beacon of genetic liberation, heralding an era where 'genetic freedom' is not just a concept, but a tangible reality. This revolutionary technology offers us the unprecedented power to rewrite the script of our DNA, to liberate ourselves from the inherited constraints that have long defined human existence. As we stand at this pivotal crossroads in our evolutionary journey, CRISPR empowers us to overcome genetic predispositions to disease, enhance our capabilities, and boldly step into new frontiers of human potential. It's a call for humanity to embrace this tool of self-determination, to responsibly guide our evolution, and to redefine what it means to be human in an age where our genetic destiny is ours to shape.
The Future's in Our Genes: Unzipping the Potential
I believe we are at possibly one of the most interesting times to be a human in almost any way, we are facing huge challenges that risk the very existence of our species and we are developing technologies that can help us solve most if not all of these problems but also that pose existential threats just as big as the ones we want it to solve.
We need to overcome a wide set of challenges for the changes that we desire to come true. A better regulatory framework is always necessary for a piece of technology to maximize its utilities for the welfare of humanity, luckily the EU has some ethical and regulatory guidelines that could offer a very interesting glimpse into how to regulate gene editing in the future.
Hopefully, this technology comes sooner rather than later and most humans can benefit from the gains of gene editing before it is too late for them. We are seeing interest and funding being driven into the anti-aging field with competitions like the latest Xprize (who wants to win 101 million dollars check the link)
This also means that there’s gotta be concerns about safety and consent when implementing these technologies it is controversial when you mention parents genetically modifying their child, it is an easy choice when is some life-threatening disease or condition but when it is something like cognitive capacity will we draw the line there or only when something is purely aesthetic or cosmetic will we draw the line there? Or are there other concerns we haven’t discussed in this article? If you feel like that let me know I’d love to read your ideas.
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