By. Ryan Villalobos
The Hollywood film industry has painted a negative picture of the unintended consequences of gene editing for decades. But these days, viable gene editing is closer than ever and is certainly poised to be an incredibly disruptive technology. With the wide availability of CRISPR technology, gene editing is not limited to established research corporations, but anyone with interest. In fact, Synthergo, a leading provider of genome engineering solutions, revealed that 87% of CRISPR users are new to gene editing. This is, in fact, a double-edged sword. Gene editing has the potential to permanently alter the biological balance of ecosystems in the world for better or for worse. Its unregulated deployment could have tremendous consequences down the road, some potentially unexpected. According to world.wng.org, the current algorithms used to predict potential genetic mutations as a result of gene edits are not sufficient in animal tests because there were still unexpected results. Despite this fact, world.wng.org reports that some researchers wish to move forward with human tests. On the other hand, there is no denying the unlimited positive possibilities of gene editing technology. National Geographic reports that at this point, gene editing is our best chance of curing genetic diseases such as Alzheimer’s. In addition, gene editing raises the possibility of reproducing extinct species, including those made extinct because of mankind.
Gene editing is still a ways away, but we can already see how it will impact our daily lives. If gene editing our reproductive cells became viable, we may be able to eradicate development disabilities as well as hereditary disease, therefore, reducing the medical strain on our society. In addition, our future visit to zoos may include species that went extinct long before humans existed. However, there are always risks, and if gene editing were to be implemented carelessly, the Hollywood depictions of science run amuck could very well be our future.