From Dr. Mercola:
In his 1932 sci-fi novel “Brave New World,” Aldous Huxley explored what life might be like in AD 2540 — a world in which children are born in government owned baby hatcheries.
In his world, human freedom is virtually non-existent, as each individual is genetically engineered and psychologically conditioned to fulfill a specific role within one of the five societal classes.
Over 500 years before his prediction, we’re already seeing the germination of some of his projections.
The technical development that is taking medicine by storm is CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat) — a gene editing tool that has the most profound potential to change the health world as we know it that I have ever encountered.
A layman’s explanation of the technology and its potential ramifications is presented in the video above. In the past, talk about altering the human genome was relegated to philosophical discussions; now it’s becoming a reality. A “Brave New World” indeed!
Drug Companies Race to Develop Gene Editing Drugs
According to MIT Technical Review,1 the pharmaceutical industry is “doubling down” on CRISPR for novel drug development. CRISPR Therapeutics has entered a joint venture with Bayer to create drugs for blood disorders and blindness using this gene editing technology.
Two other startups aiming to put CRISPR technology to use in drug development are Editas Medicine and Intellia Therapeutics. According to the featured article, “dealings over the past year have revealed broad disease areas where drugmakers see opportunities for applying the new tool.”
At present, any therapy based on CRISPR technology would have to involve three steps: Remove cells from your body; alter the DNA, and then reintroduce the cells into your body.
CRISPR hold the promise to transform the human species in ways yet unknown and it has quickly gone from being written about only in scientific journals to receiving global media attention. It is sometimes called the Microsoft Word of gene editing for its low cost and ease of use for researchers.
Specificity — The Ultimate Challenge of Genetic Modification
All three CRISPR startups are also working on technologies for editing the genome right inside your body, without having to take out and reinsert the cells.
This presents a far greater challenge, and while it would broaden the range of diseases that could be addressed, it may also be far more dangerous, with any number of potential side effects.
As noted in the featured article:
“‘The ultimate need’ of any of the players trying to make CRISPR drugs is for technologies that can increase CRISPR’s specificity, so that it edits only the target DNA sequence …
The basis of CRISPR technology is a biological system some bacteria use to remove unwanted viral DNA sequences … One of the molecules that locates and cuts the DNA has evolved to be somewhat nonspecific so it can be flexible enough to address a range of different viruses…
Once the system is specific enough, there could be several ways