Thursday, September 5, 2013

Rewriting the human genome, is it possible?

The plot of “Walking Apocalypse” has to do with one scientist's blanket approach to rewriting the human genome in order to cure all hereditary disease. A noble endeavor, to be sure, but what follows is all-too-typical of the pattern of real life. Something goes terribly wrong.

With protagonist Nick Candelaria infected by the genome-rewriting process and on the run, he finds that his options are severely limited. This is not something you can check into the local hospital for, and if he notifies the authorities they would quarantine him, cutting off any chance of finding a cure to save his life in time.

But is such a thing as rewriting the human genome possible in real life?

The answer is yes, and it's being done. Europe has approved medicines that will rewrite your DNA to cure genetic disorders. This is different from treating symptoms to alleviate suffering, this is an outright cure – and some of these treatments are becoming available now.

It's exciting to think of a time when the human species will be freed from all genetic disorders, but the danger is in outside interference with this noble effort. In the wrong hands, such a process could be used to cause great harm.

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