A paper published in Science‘s November 13th edition states that MIT researchers succeeded in targeting a mutation of a specific DNA in Escherichia coli genome, through chemical and light stimuli. Timothy Lu, one of the coauthors of this project says that it has a potential to be adapted for use in mammals to record the inner workings of a diverse set of cellular types, including neurons. This system, called SCRIBE, has a potential to be used to genetically engineer specific types of cells to desired effect. Programmable DNA could be one of many steps towards finding a cure for many diseases, but for upgrading physical and mental abilities in humans as well. It is no longer the question if we could control our DNA, but should we?
There are some of us who are born with enhanced genetic traits. For example, researchers have shown that most athletes have a special variant of ACTN3 genotype, which has influence on the performance of skeletal muscles. In fact, over 200 genes relate to athletic performances in humans. Others regulate traits such as intelligence, looks, health, and so forth. Ph.Ds, models and vigorous men and women are blessed with good genes. The rest of us are trying to compensate for the lack of those or any other genes by improving ourselves in every possible way, through learning, exercising, diets, various medical treatments, plastic surgeries,DNA_orbit_animated etc. Wouldn’t it be more efficient and less painful to resort to targeted and controlled gene therapy in order to fix the natural disadvantages?
Questions like this one are at the core of any debate tackling the subject of possible applications of biotechnical engineering on humans. Proponents of the idea that the future will inevitably bring about a new sort of humans, a post-human, who will have better traits, overall well-being, and abilities to adapt to the challenges of ever-changing environment, not only here on earth, but in space as well, focus only on positive outcomes of a fine tuning of our genetic signature. On the other side, opponents state that it will most definitely change us as a race, which cannot be good at all, since we are created perfect, whether by God or by Nature and any tampering with this sacred plan would be blasphemy and can be used for engineering of élite race of superhumans, control of the population, and the introduction of man-made diseases.
The genes we inherited have mutated naturally in our predecessors. Random mutations of human genes are happening all the time. They cause some beneficial, but also many harmful effects on human beings. Nearly 4,000 diseases are caused by mutations in DNA (James J. Nora, Medical Genetics: Principles and Practice). So, every mutation, whether natural or men-induced, can have negative effects on a long run. But, it also might have a potential to repair damages caused by random mutations, even upgrade some of our predispositions, like our brain usage, from mere 1o percent to maybe 15 or 20 percent, which will enable us to better understand our nature and the world we’re living in, and finally do something decisive to stop wars, suffering, and make this planet a better place for all of us.