ISRAEL PLEDGES TO BECOME WORLD LEADER IN TRANSHUMANISM
The Israel Innovation Authority Is Spending $10 Million To Advance CRISPR Technology.
June 5, 2020
Last year, the first use of CRISPR-edited human DNA to treat a medical condition was deemed a success, and now Israel wants to become a world leader in the technology’s use.
The University of Pennsylvania announced late last year that it conducted the first clinical trial whereby a cancer patient’s immune cells were edited with CRISPR, and the cells were returned to his or her body to boost immunity during chemotherapy. The researchers concluded the technology was both safe and effective.
Last month, another group of researchers inserted CRISPR directly into a patient’s body in an attempt to treat a genetic condition that causes blindness. That announcement triggered widespread scientific excitement over genome editing, which researchers say could be used to treat anything from common disorders to rare illnesses for which no medicines exist.
This week, the Israel Innovation Authority announced it will spend $10 million to advance CRISPR technology over the next 18 months—after which additional funding may be secured. The authority’s vice president, Aviv Zeevi, said artificial intelligence will be used to reach unprecedented levels of accuracy:
“Israel will be one of the leaders in the field. We’ll have some of the most accurate tools. We need to be able to target the specific part of the genome we want to fix, and the difficulty is that accuracy of existing tools is low.
“We will research ways to boost accuracy by developing ways of guiding the tools that make genome edits—tools that are like scissors which cut the specific part of the sequence and replace it—to the precise place where they are needed.
“We will train algorithms to know where to perform the edit and get to a higher accuracy level. Right now, the success rate for genome edits is around 10 percent and we’re hoping to get to 70 percent within three years.”
Zeevi went to say better accuracy also reduces the risk of unwanted side effects. But, changing human DNA is still a barely understood technology, both scientifically and ethically. In China in 2018, researcher He Jiankui announced he had produced the first gene-edited babies.
And changing DNA changes the organism, even in human beings. Change enough DNA, and the patient will cease to be human. Bioethicists have not yet had that philosophical debate.
(Photo Credit: Public Domain)