Navigating the ‘promise and peril’ of bioengineering

gene editing

We’re standing on the threshold of extraordinary capability in synthetic biology. CRISPR-Cas9, the genome editing technique discovered in 2014, is at the forefront of this newfound potential for innovation. These advancements provide an opportunity to solve problems in food supply, disease, genetics, and—the most tantalizing and forbidden of prospects—modifying the human genome….

However, many experts warn of the dangers of these new capabilities. A vast torrent of money is flowing towards biotech startups, and the race to be first can encourage cutting corners…

How can we realistically assess the potential risks and rewards? Now, a new study combining researchers from the US and the UK, published recently in eLifeSciences, gives an expert perspective on 20 emerging issues in bioengineering.

The researchers sorted the 20 developments into different time horizons: the next five years, the next decade, and more than a decade away.

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Yet as it becomes accessible by more and more people, there are other risks…Genetic information will become the new currency; just as an algorithm today can be worth millions or wreak havoc, soon the same security measures will need to apply to genetics. We can only hope that these security efforts are well-funded and carried out with the utmost care. The consequences of a computer virus can be damaging; the consequences of ‘malware’ for humans could be far worse.

Read full, original post: The Enormous Promise and Peril of Bioengineering’s Pandora’s Box

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