The future genetic engineering might be closer than you think

In November last year, news came out that the Chinese secretly a scientist changed the genes of the embryos of a pair of Chinese twins, and shocked the world. However, although the use of advanced technology to change the human gene pool was premature, it was a harbinger of how genetics will change our health, attitude to children and, ultimately, our relationship to ourselves and to our species. The genetic revolution has already begun, but we are not ready to take responsibility for prometeia technologies.

Having determined the structure of DNA in the 1950s, Watson, Crick, Wilkins and Franklin had shown that the book of life written in the DNA double helix. When in 2003 was completed the human genome project, we saw how to rewrite the book on human life. Painstaking research, combined with advanced computational algorithms have begun more and more to discover what genes do and how to read the genetic book of life.

Now, thanks to the advent of precision editing tools gene — like CRISPR (read what it is) — we just realized that the book of life, and all of biology can be rewritten. Biology has become another form of readable, writable and break open information technologies that we, the people, encoding.

The impact of this transformation is primarily felt in the area of health. Gene therapy, including retrieving, modifying, and re-introduction of own human cells, superior to control, for example, with cancer, already works wonders in clinical trials. Thousands of applications have already been submitted to regulators around the world for trials using gene therapy for the treatment of many other diseases.

Not so long ago was launched the first gene editing of cells inside the human body for treatment of relatively simple from the point of view of genetics metabolic syndrome — hunter syndrome. Other applications will soon follow. These examples are literally the first steps in our transition from the existing generalized system of medicine based on averages of the population, to precise medicine based on the individual biology of each patient, and prognostic medicine based on the generated artificial intelligence estimates of the future state of human health.

This shift in our health ensures that millions and then billions of people will be to sequence their genomes, laying the basis for their treatment. Big data Analytics will help to compare the large-scale human genotypes (say genes) with phenotype (how genes are expressed throughout life).

Massive datasets of genetic and health information will allow us to go beyond the simple modern genetic analysis and to understand the much more complex human diseases and traits, which affect hundreds or thousands of genes. Our understanding of this complex genetic system in the vast ecosystem of our body and our environment will transform healthcare for the better and will help us treat terrible diseases that plagued our ancestors for millennia.

But as revolutionary as this task for medicine, investigation of the genetic revolution in health care — this is only a transit station on the way to the final destination: a deep and fundamental transformation of our species.

Changing the human species

The first glimpses of the future that we’re moving, you can see in industry of genetic tests focused on the consumer. Many people around the world sent their strokes from the inner part of the cheeks companies — like 23andMe — test. Informationthat will be provided, will talk about a relatively simple genetic traits: the status of diseases associated with the mutation of one gene, eye color, like the taste of cilantro, but talking about complex traits: athletic predisposition, intelligence, personality.

It will not always. As you increase pools of genetic data and health data, analysis of a large number of sequenced genomes will allow us to predict a very complex genetic risks of diseases and genetic traits, such as height, IQ, temperament and personality style. This process, called “polygenic counting”, is already conducting several companies, and in the future will become a more important part of our lives.

The most interesting result of all this will manifest itself in our children. Before you decide which of the fertilized eggs to implant, women in the IVF process today can choose from a small number of cells that were extracted from a previously implanted embryo, and to sequence the genome. Modern technologies allow to see the mutations of separate genes and are relatively simple disorder. Polygenic counting will soon allow you to see the embryos on the early stages of development and to assess the risk of complex genetic diseases or even the possibility of the inheritance of complex human traits. The most intimate elements of human life will soon be subjected to strict selection by the parents.

Stem cell technologies for adults, are likely to produce hundreds or thousands of their own eggs, women of her blood sample or a skin graft. This will open doors for reproductive opportunity and will allow parents to choose embryos with exceptional potential from a much wider set of options.

The complexity of human biology imposes some limitations on the extent of possible editing of genes, but all biology, including our own, is extremely flexible. How else only one cell four billion years ago there was all this biodiversity? The limitations of our imagination will be the greatest barriers of our biology.

But while we humans seek the power of the gods, we are not ready to use it.

Games with their own biology

The same tools that will help us to overcome our worst habits, will save our children, help us to live longer and healthier lives, they also open the door to abuse. Prudent parents with good intentions or States with weak regulatory structure, or aggressive ideas, wishing to increase the competitiveness of the nation, can lead us into a genetic race, which would undermine our significant diversity, it is dangerous to divide society, will lead to dangerous, destabilizing and even potentially fatal conflicts between us, threaten all of humanity.

But if the development of genetic technology is inevitable, it is how all this will unfold — and you need to control. If we don’t want genetic revolution have destroyed our species or have led to deadly conflicts between having the right genes and have-nots, or between socially adapted and socially inept, it is now necessary to make smarter decisions, starting from our best individual and collective values. Although technologies that promote the genetic revolution, a new system of values, which we need to optimize benefits and minimize damage in the process of mass transformation, was developed thousands of years.

And while some smart and well-intentioned scientists have already gatheredin order to discuss what will happen next, not even the wisest of prophets is not enough to make decisions about the future of our species. Will need to lead the process of its formation at the national and even international level.

Each country will have to develop its own regulatory guidelines for genetic engineering of man, based on international best practices and unique traditions and values of the country. However, since we are all one, in the end, we will have to develop guidelines applicable to all of us.

The intersection of genomics and artificial intelligence may seem like science fiction, but it’s closer than you think. Much earlier than accepted by most people, the benefits offered by the new technologies, and the competition between us will cause a quick reaction. Before this spark lights up, we have very little time to come together as a species, to formulate and to translate into reality the future that we will see together.

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