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Expert: Gene Modification Could Wipe Out Geniuses

Image: Expert: Gene Modification Could Wipe Out Geniuses

(The Express)

By    |   Monday, 26 December 2016 08:58 PM

It is a blessing – with a curse.

The same technology that allows geneticists too weed out the genes that cause cancer and other illnesses and disorders could also see to it there are no Einsteins or Shakespeares or Beethovens in future generations, warns Jim Kozubek, author of "Modern Prometheus: Editing the Human Genome with Crispr-Cas9."

The very genes that cause depression, autism, schizophrenia and other issues might well be tied closely to those present in geniuses, meaning such issues could actually be seen as a "gift" that evolution has passed down to us, he told the U.K. Express.

"Thomas Edison was 'addled' and kicked out of school," Kozubek told the Express. "Tennessee Williams, as a teenager on the boulevards of Paris felt afraid of 'the process of thought' and came within 'a hairsbreadth of going quite mad. Scientists tend to think of variations in life as problems to be solved, deviations and abnormalities outside of a normal curve."

In reality, he added, "Darwin showed us that evolution does not progress toward an ideal concept or model, but rather is a work of tinkering toward adaptation in local niches."

"Before we begin modifying our genes with gene editing tools such as Crispr-Cas9, we'd be smart to recall that genetic variants that contribute to psychiatric conditions may even be beneficial depending on the environment or genetic background," he said.

A man in China recently became the first person to be injected with modified immune cells to fight his lung cancer through the Crispr technique.

Writing in Nautilus earlier this month, Kozubek said "what often goes unacknowledged is that there are no superior genes. Rather every version of a gene comes with tradeoffs. So gene modification should make us cautious: It may, depending on our environmental niche, impose a new weakness or the loss of a strength we can't foresee."

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The same technology that allows geneticists too weed out the genes that cause cancer and other illnesses and disorders could also see to it there are no Einsteins or Shakespeares or Beethovens in future generations, Jim Kozubek warns.
gene, modification, geniuses, disorders
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2016-58-26
Monday, 26 December 2016 08:58 PM
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