The use of viruses to deliver beneficial genes to upgrade your brain is very much a reality: check out this article from Nature this week:
Last week saw the news that it is now possible to create superblood by taking it out of the body and using very clever, targeted gene therapy to upgrade the DNA. It’s currently being trialled in AIDS patients, making a subtle mutation to their white blood cells so that they’re more like the HIV-immune cells of so-called HIV controllers – people that can resist HIV attacks because of different ‘flags’ on their cells. Once upgraded, you infuse the blood cells back into the patients where they can start taking on HIV with newfound immunity.
The usage is therapeutic so far, but each year sees new approaches to blood doping in the Tour de France. How long until this becomes one? How long until someone creates a safe virus capable of boosting your brain functions, and sells it on the Internet? What happens when not just your organs are modified, but also the DNA capable of being passed on to your children (“germ line” modification) – would you leave them with a trust fund, or spend the money permanently making your progeny handsome geniuses?
So humans can now be patched and bugfixed. How long until we have open-source humans? Jokingly, the time is apparently already upon us – a user of popular software source code sharing, review and editing site GitHub uploaded his genome for ‘patching’. We don’t yet have widespread technology to implement the patches that are being written and suggested, but as gene therapy progresses and gets commercialised (and maybe even amateurised), we one day doubtless will.
What a bizarre feeling it must be, knowing that the open-source crowd can pore over the very blueprints to you and start imagining and coding “You, version 2.0“…
- Genetically engineering human tissues enters clinical age
- Here we go, people: medicine based on targeted genetic engineering human tissues is henceforth a reality. In Phase I (early stage) medical trials, the blood of HIV sufferers was taken out, genetically engineered to make it more resistant to the virus, before pumping the super-blood back into the sufferers' body. This post briefly summarises the technology and its potential unanticipated uses....
- Stewart Brand, on viruses and the scale of things
- People don't quite realise quite how prevalent viruses are. For example, the number of viruses on Earth is currently estimated to be 1 followed by 31 zeroes. For more food for thought, read on......
Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.