CRISPR Genome Editing in Humans

While genetically modified organisms (GMOs: animals, fungi, and plants) are a frequent topic of discussion in this class, scientists are beginning to literally change what it means to be human and are already able to create people who qualify as genetically modified organisms.

Blade Runner 2049 opens this coming Friday and the concept of engineering humans is seems even more relevant.

Increased understanding of biomedical engineering, epigenetics, genomics, progress in DARPA’s neural implant initiativesynthetic biology, and continuing advances in stem cell applications and research, are blurring the borders between science fiction and reality.

The ethical and legal discussions surrounding the concepts of man-made genetically modified humans (homo superior?) are interesting.  We stand at the frontier of a new distinction in classes; where the elite will pursue eugenic superiority while a different branch of humanity will be relegated to specific types of labor literally best suited by their breeding.  In this brave new world it is also not difficult to imagine a sub-class of human who would be optimized as an organ donor.

Given the stakes of supremacy and survival the well-intended attempts at regulating this type of experimentation and research are naive.