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    10 tech predictions for 2020 – #2 CRISPR coming of age

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    Hi there My prediction today is about the development within gene-editing

    We have already witnessed a lot of breakthroughs in this area In 2003, we experienced the first mapping of the human genome which was a tremendous achievement And then in 2013, just ten years later, we saw the invention of a technique called CRISPR-cas, which is a fairly simple and low-cost mythology to order any gene in any organism And from that point on things have gone pretty ballistic We now stand with the technology that potentially can eradicate most genetic diseases but it also allows us to change a whole animal race or to alter an embryo in order to decide the sex or to increase the probability of things like for example blue eyes

    And in 2019, we saw the birth of the first two gene-edited twin girls in Shenzhen in China That was broadly condemned afterwards but it just shows what is possible today and we are now seeing the first FDA-approved treatments for genetic diseases Luxturna from Spark Therapeutics is one example They treat a specific type of inherited retinal dystrophy which basically means that you lose your ability to see, but the treatment cost eight hundred fifty thousand dollars per patient So jensma from Novartis is another one, it promised to treat something called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) which is also a rare genetic disease

    They do that with just one injection but it cost 21 million dollars and of course this have led to a heavy discussion about pricing and benefit because how can you put a price tag on life And while this discussion is heating up we see new and interesting techniques being developed if CRISPR-cas works like a scissor and a pencil then a new technique called prime editing works more like a word processor which basically means that you can now do virtually any alteration: add, delete, swap, single genes in the DNA and without actually harming the DNA Double Helix Gene-drive is another genetic engineering technology that can force a particular suite of genes throughout a population This brings promise to for example eradicate malaria transmitting mosquitoes but of course it also bears the risk of a lot of unintended consequences

    So naturally this leaves us with a lot of deep ethical discussions like: which which chances are we willing to take? Who should be allowed to perform these alterations? And in which situations? And meanwhile you can now log on to a website called theodincom and buy your own beginners CRISPR kit for just $159 which a lot of nerds have done And this have led to communities of so-called biohackers around the world So it is a technology that is hard to contain within certain boundaries I predict several major commercial breakthroughs within gene-editing in 2020

    But at the same time I also expect a heated debate about the ethical aspects of this technology If you want to dig deeper into this topic I strongly recommend the Netflix documentary series called 'unnatural selection' which was published in October 2019 So CRISPR and gene-editing is a technology area that will develop in 2020 Look out for that you

    Source: Youtube

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