Friday, October 28, 2016

Whatever Became of the Lebensborn Children?

nanalyze |  We now have 3 genetic engineering companies that have had an IPO and which you can now invest in; Editas Medicine (NASDAQ:EDIT), Intellia Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NTLA), and CRISPR Therapeutics (NASDAQ:CRSP). Sure, they’re involved in “gene editing” but the label of “genetic engineering” is much more appropriate for this article because we’re going to talk about something that makes people feel uncomfortable. We’re going to talk about genetic engineering in humans, in particular, we’re going to talk about germline genetic engineering which we can now do using the gene editing technologies offered by all 3 of these companies. “Germline” is a term used to refer to the source of DNA for all other cells in the body. When performing genetic engineering at the germline level in humans, it’s pretty much the equivalent of genetically modifying our food to promote superior traits except the ethical implications are far greater.

3 Stages of Genetic Engineering in Humans

Putting our ethics aside for a moment, here’s how we see that timeline progressing in 3 stages:
  1. Gene editing is first used to genetically engineer embryos such that inherited diseases including cancer are made extinct.
  2. Genetic engineering is then used to modify genetic traits that inhibit intelligence, starting with mental retardation, and move to traits that advance intelligence
  3. Genetic engineering is finally used to create “designer babies” that look more visually appealing perhaps also removing the mythical fat gene.
How thrilled is the general population about this sort of genetic engineering in humans? This thrilled:

genetic engineering humans germline
Source: MIT

So almost 50% of people think that it’s okay to go mucking around and editing our germline as a species. The Chinese have already started researching this area though everyone was up in arms over it. That’s crazy to think about. Right now we are on the cusp of an era where we can essentially start to play God. We’re already creating synthetic organisms at a massive scale. We’re doing things like taking bacteria and genetically modifying them so that they literally “sweat” biofuels. We’ve create an army of robots driven by artificial intelligence that are genetically modifying organism to save companies 10s of millions of dollars a year. We’re pretty sure that Stage 1 will eventually happen because disease is bad, right?  The future seems bright and the opportunities endless. Fist tap Big Don.