The Human Genome Project successfully completed its goal in 2003 to map all human DNA. Our DNA is our code. It determines how tall or short we are, our skin colour, how attractive we are, how smart we are and importantly, what diseases we are at risk of getting.
Why is understanding our DNA through sequencing important? It means that scientists can identify specific genes which might cause cancer, sickle cell disease, Alzheimer’s. For example, scientists could determine that we can make a human immune to breast cancer if we replace gene number 3,486 from type A to type T. All we would need is a tool to make that edit in a living human’s DNA, and that person would be cured of cancer.
That tool does exist, and it’s being used today. It’s called CRISPR-Cas9 (CRISPR for short), and you can read more details about it here. This tool essentially snips out genes we don’t want in our DNA and replaces them with genes we do want.
In the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data, we will soon see a rapid acceleration of this technology. AI algorithms will help identify important patterns in our DNA from large amounts of human DNA sequences. “Important patterns” could be things we don’t want (like cancer or poor eyesight) or things we do want (like longevity or twenty-twenty vision).
Where will we get this DNA data from? Well, many people already send their DNA off to be analysed (Think of 23andMe). Soon, the cost of having your DNA sequenced to identify medical issues will drop to just $100 and will take a few hours. The cost of sequencing the first human genome as part of the Human Genome Project was $3 billion and took 13-years. This reduction in cost and time tells us we are at the cust of a human revolution.
Current Applications and Trials
And so much more.
We predict that in the next 10 years, as the cost of sequencing drops below $100, and millions of people give their DNA to AI, fundamental changes will hit the human race. The cure for cancer is within reach. The possibility of curing all disease is within reach.
Within 15-20 years, talk of ending ageing, and all associated age-related disease, will not be seen as “crackpot science”. It will be our reality. This is not science fiction. The combination of CRISPR and AI will change what it means to be human.