Biology and technology are poised to reinvent countless industries, giving rise to a golden age for biology as technology
Biology, of course, is the original technology. Our tinkering with life’s building blocks, and our ancestor’s manipulation of plants and herbs as medicines and their use of neem branches as toothpaste or the cultivation of plants like corn has been going on for millennia. It wasn’t until the 1970s and 1980s that we saw the first flowering of today’s modern biotech industry.
Today, innovative researchers are building on those early technologies. Among the most promising is the discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique. Using what they refer to as molecular scissors, scientists can use CRISPR to edit a living person’s DNA, deleting or repairing damaged sections. Because the changes are made at the genome, the DNA fix is hereditary, unlike previous fixes that affect only the individual patient. The technique promises to slow if not eradicate cancer. It could also prevent sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia and heart disease.
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