The prospect of editing genes was hypothetical and academic until the advent of CRISPR. CRISPR has dramatically increased the ease with which genes can be modified in living organisms, even animals as large as monkeys. A biotech, Editas, plans to begin editing human genes in 2017 as a treatment for a particular type of vision loss. The condition only affects a few hundred people, but it has the right characteristics as a proof of concept. The technical and medical issues will be debated with the legal and moral issues; but as with most new ideas, if there’s enough money to be made and enough lives to be improved, it has a strong chance of proceeding. If so, it sets a precedent enabling other treatments, and potentially other ‘improvements’ in genetically modifying humans who can afford the technique. One step closer to transhumans?
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