The phrase “Brave New World” has become one of the most often used clichés in medical technology in recent years. Google the title of Aldous Huxley’s 1932 dystopian, and anticipatory, novel with the word medicine and 2,940,000 results appear. But could there be better shorthand to describe some of the recent developments in medical, health and bio-tech? Consider these possibilities coming to fruition, or close to, in 2016:
1. Back from Extinction- Gene-editing startup Editas Medicine of Cambridge, Mass., filed to go public this month. The company’s founder, Harvard professor George Church, hopes to, among other things, revive the extinct woolly mammoth or create a facsimile. Investors include Google and Bill Gates.
Of course, these investors aren’t banking on birthing a dinosaur. They hope the company’s DNA-editing technologies will give birth to treatments for an array of medical conditions such as cancers, auto-immune ailments, blood diseases and eye disorders.
2. Frankenfish- Earlier this month, the FDA approved the farming of so-called Frankenfish, fast-growing, super-size salmons created by AquaBounty in Maynard, Mass., by spicing the genes of pout and Chinook salmon into common salmon and modifying the fishes’ growth hormones. It remains to be seen what kind of GMO labeling may be required for the fish. Whether the lox is kosher, however, remains a matter of rabbinical study.
3. Designer Babies – A new method of genetic splicing, CRISPR-Cas9, could allow scientists to make designer babies by replacing bits of DNA in the child’s reproductive cells. This also would alter how the genes are passed down to future generations, a big reason why the cutting edge CRISPR-Cas9 technology is controversial. Ethical debates and safety fears about genetic modification technology have existed since its creation in the 1970s, but they have been dismissed as futuristic. The future, however, is now, apparently. CONTINUE