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Genetics


Analysis and insight on the advancements in genetics. Stay updated as Singularity Hub discusses the most important trends in genetics research.

Living Neanderthal ‘Mini-Brains’ May Reveal What Makes Our Brains Special

He isolated DNA from Egyptian mummies. He discovered the Denisovans, an extinct ancient human species, by sequencing DNA from a tiny bone fragment. He led a massive study that reconstructed the Neanderthal genome—and found...

Scientists Kick Off Synthetic Biology Project to Make Virus-Resistant Super Cells

Recently, roughly 200 eminent scientists assembled in Boston. Their agenda? Creating “superhero” human cells impervious to all viral attacks and possibly other killers—radiation, freezing, aging, or even cancer. The trick isn’t super-soldier serum. Instead, the...

This New Startup Will Use CRISPR as a Search Engine to Hunt Down Diseases

By now, you’ve heard of CRISPR—the bacterial self-defense mechanism that can be used to modify the genome. From “biohackers” building the hype by injecting themselves with CRISPR—and later regretting it—to the more measured, successful...

CRISPR-on-a-Chip For Diagnosing Cancer May Soon Be a Thing

Oh CRISPR, how you’ve grown. From an obscure part of the bacterial immune defense system, you’re now on track to cure genetic diseases, thwart superbugs, boost global food production, and wipe out disease-carrying pests. And...

A Data Storage Revolution? DNA Can Store Near Limitless Data in Almost Zero Space

In the age of big data, we are quickly producing far more digital information than we can possibly store. Last year, $20 billion was spent on new data centers in the US alone, doubling the...

Would Standing on the First Butterfly Really Change the History of Evolution?

Martha Jones: It’s like in those films: if you step on a butterfly, you change the future of the human race. The Doctor: Then don’t step on any butterflies. What have butterflies ever done to...

Not Just Gene Editing—CRISPR Toolkit Expands With Trio of New Tricks

CRISPR, the superhero of gene editing, just got a little more super. In a trio of studies released last week in Science, leading CRISPR labs around the world unveiled some ultra-creative additions to the technique,...

New CRISPR Method Takes on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

The advance of CRISPR gene editing technology, which uses an RNA strand to guide an enzyme called Cas9 to cut a specific portion of DNA, has raised concerns and sparked debate as people envision...

Why Gene Silencing Could Launch a New Class of Blockbuster Drugs

Long before CRISPR, there was gene silencing. Ever since the Human Genome Project transcribed our genetic bible in 1997, scientists have dreamt of curing inherited diseases at the source. The first audacious idea? Shoot the...

If We Could Engineer Animals to Be as Smart as Humans—Should We?

Advances in neural implants and genetic engineering suggest that in the not-too-distant future we may be able to boost human intelligence. If that’s true, could we—and should we—bring our animal cousins along for the...

Gene Therapy Had a Breakthrough 2017—2018 May Be Even Better

Gene therapy had a hell of a 2017. After decades of promises but failed deliveries, last year saw the field hitting a series of astonishing home runs. The concept of gene therapy is elegant: like...

New Research Suggests Immunity to CRISPR Gene Editing Poses a Challenge

CRISPR-Cas9 is the talk of the town in biotechnology. There is a huge amount of public interest in the possibilities provided by this new genome editing technology, and many are hoping CRISPR could eventually...

9 Ways You Can Use Your Devices for Advanced Scientific Research

Want to help solve world problems like finding a cure for cancer? Looking to make a global impact in 2018 with minimal effort on your part? It’s relatively easy to use your devices for...
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How Neuroscience Is Beginning to Rewire the Brain From the Inside Out

In an interview at Exponential Medicine in San Diego, Singularity University faculty and speaker Dr. Divya Chander takes a look at how emerging technologies are letting us peer inside the human brain like never before. As an anesthesiologist...

The Enormous Promise and Peril of Bioengineering’s Pandora’s Box

We’re standing on the threshold of extraordinary capability in synthetic biology. CRISPR-Cas9, the genome editing technique discovered in 2014, is at the forefront of this newfound potential for innovation. These advancements provide an opportunity...

These Bacteria Use New DNA Bases to Make a Protein Not Found in Nature

All of nature’s bewildering complexity can be reduced to a four letter code—DNA’s four bases: A, T, C, and G. But now scientists have shown the language at the heart of life is not...

CRISPR Can Now Hitch a Ride on Nanoparticles to Battle Disease

It started like any other day. Dr. Hao Yin walked into the lab at MIT, ready to check on his transgenic mice. He had no idea he was about to make history. Yin’s mice harbored...
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You’ve Heard All About CRISPR Gene Editing—Here’s How It Works

Gene editing is in the news a lot these days, but what is it exactly? Gene editing is the process of making precise and permanent changes to living things at the level of DNA,...
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Should We Edit Human Genes? What You Need to Know

There’s a difference between editing genes in a person’s somatic cells and germline cells. Editing somatic cells, which are differentiated (e.g., skin cells) and non-reproductive, impacts them alone. In contrast, editing germline DNA means changes...

FDA Breaks New Ground With First Approved Gene Therapy for Cancer

When oncologist Dr. Carl June heard the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to bring the first gene therapy to market in the US, he pinched himself, hard. “It was so improbable that this would ever...

Controversial Study Predicts What People Look Like From Their DNA

As the cost of sequencing DNA goes down more and more, people's genome data is being collected for research and personalized medicine. This data is often anonymized by decoupling it from other identifying information,...
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Do We Have the Right to Edit the Genes of an Entire Species?

Scientists can now more cheaply and efficiently edit animal and human DNA using the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system. But should we edit species, and if so, to what extent? An interesting way to consider this question...
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Tech-X-Planations | Introducing a New Original Weekly Video Series

We’ve all name-dropped a new technology that sounds awesome—like CRISPR/Cas9—without really knowing the basics. This is why we’ve created Tech-x-planations, Singularity Hub’s new weekly video series that explores fundamental ideas in science, technology, and the...

Gene Editing in Human Embryos Leaps Forward—Here’s the Science

Imagine walking down the street with a ticking time bomb in your chest, never knowing when your heart may explode. Or going through five decades of life, having kids, and always wondering when your mind...

Biocomputers Made From Cells Can Now Handle More Complex Logic

When it comes to biomolecules, RNA doesn’t get a lot of love. Maybe you haven’t even heard of the silent workhorse. RNA is the cell’s de facto translator: like a game of telephone, RNA takes...
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3 Exponentials to Watch | Future of Everything With Jason Silva (Part 3)

In the third of Singularity University's Future of Everything YouTube series with Jason Silva, Silva discusses "The Big Three" exponential technologies, which he defines as GNR: genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics. "If I were to be talking...

The Era of Human Gene Editing Is Here—What Happens Next Is Critical

Scientists in Portland, Ore., just succeeded in creating the first genetically modified human embryo in the United States, according to Technology Review. A team led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health & Science University is reported to “have...

New Film ‘Food Evolution’ Takes on One of the Most Polarizing Scientific Topics

One Tuesday morning, as his family bustled around the house getting ready for the day, Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s phone lit up with a text message from his neighbor. “Can I borrow some organic milk?”...

A Living Hard Drive: This GIF Was Stored in the DNA of Bacteria

DNA is a hugely promising medium for storing data. Consider that a cell nucleus can hold the instructions for an organism as complex as a human. So far efforts to store non-genetic data in...

‘Biological Teleportation’ Edges Closer With Craig Venter’s Digital-to-Biological Converter

The year is 2030. In a high-security containment lab, scientists gathered around a towering machine, eagerly awaiting the first look at a newly discovered bacterium on Mars. With a series of beeps, the machine—a digital-to-biological...

Is the Brain Augmentation Hype Justified? Here’s an Expert’s Take

Despite bold predictions from several tech firms about the future of neural interfaces, the science of brain augmentation is still in the early days. So, what do academics think of all the hype coming...

Bizarre Mini Brains Offer a Fascinating New Look at the Brain

Brain balls sound like something straight out of a Tim Burton movie: starting as stem cells harvested from patients, they eventually develop into masses of living neurons, jumbled together in misshapen blobs. Just like the...

These Cells Are Engineered to Be Controlled by a Smartphone

To Dr. Mark Gomelsky, a professor at the University of Wyoming, genetically engineered therapeutic cells are like troops on a mission. The first act is training. Using genetic editing tools such as CRISPR, scientists can...

CRISPR Pill May Be Key in Fight Against Antibiotic Resistance

Even since Alexander Fleming stumbled across penicillin—the first antibiotic drug—scientists knew our fight with evolution was on. Most antibiotics work by blocking biological processes that allow bacteria to thrive and multiply. With prolonged, low-dosage use,...

Gene Editing Might Change What Being Human Actually Means

Attempts to distill the essence of “selfhood” have occupied philosophers for centuries. Consensus has been fleeting at best, but is likely to get even harder as genetic tools allow us to tweak our bodies...

The Future of Food: To GMO or Not To GMO?

An organic diet has never been more in style than it is right now, with millions of consumers willing to shell out extra dollars for organic foods. Most of us have a vague idea...

Old Mice Made Young Again With New Anti-Aging Drug

There’s something eerily dystopian about the lives of cells. Like the young heroes in popular teen novels, cells are born into stringent organ “societies,” destined to perform specific roles preordained by their DNA expression. Like...

How to Feed 9.7 Billion People? CRISPR Gene Editing For Crops

It’s no secret that we’re going to struggle to feed the rapidly expanding global population. New genome editing technologies could hold the answer, according to scientists. The number of humans on this planet is expected...

The Rise of a New Species of Human Being

Today, what survives on Earth can be determined entirely by human beings. We can alter the genetics of almost any life form and potentially design entirely new ones. According to renowned physicist Freeman Dyson,...

The Weird World of Cyborg Animals Is Here

Roboticists frequently turn to nature for inspiration for their inventions, reverse engineering the traits that evolution has developed over millennia. Others are taking a shortcut by simply integrating modern technology with living animals. The idea...

Long Extinct Species to Be Revived in the Lab With Powerful New Tools

Bringing extinct species back to life isn’t a science fiction fantasy anymore, even if the technology isn’t quite ready for prime time. The newest buzz around the topic of de-extinction is actually a revival of...

How Fully Synthetic Complex Life Just Got a Lot Closer

From domestication to selective breeding and right up to DNA editing, humans have long sought to bend the genetic makeup of animals and plants to our needs. Now an international team has taken a...

Natural Selection Is About to Be Overpowered by the First-Ever Mammalian Gene Drive

The year is 2050. The place, New Zealand. Technological advances have dramatically changed the lives of the island’s human inhabitants, but on first blush, its animals remain untouched. Except for one curious thing: all invasive...

Would You Want a Dog That Was Genetically Engineered to Be Healthier?

“Dogs have more genetic diseases than any other species on the planet.” David Ishee told me this early in our conversation. His claim makes sense: there’s no other animal that humans have purposefully bred...

Wearable Devices Can Actually Tell When You’re About to Get Sick

Feeling run down? Have a case of the sniffles? Maybe you should have paid more attention to your smartwatch. No, that’s not the pitch line for a new commercial peddling wearable technology, though no doubt...

Designer Babies Dilemma in Sharp Focus With Fast Moving Fertility Tech

Moral panic around “designer babies” is nothing new, but rapid advances in technology that allows adult cells to be reprogrammed into sperm and egg cells could bring the issue into sharp focus. Since the 90s...

Aging and Death Are the Evolutionary Price of Complexity

Life’s ever-repeating cycles of birth and death are among the most fundamental principles of nature. An organism starts out as a single cell that grows and divides, develops into an embryo, matures and reaches...

How Babies in the UK Can Now Legally Have DNA From Three People

From the beginning of time, conception has been a two-person process. Even in cases where there would have been a medical or genetic benefit to pulling in a third person, science hadn’t advanced enough...

10 Tech Trends That Made the World Better in 2016

2016 was an incredible year for technology, and for humanity. Despite all the negative political-related news, there were 10 tech trends this year that positively transformed humanity. For this “2017 Kick-Off” post, I reviewed 52 weeks...

The Ethical Conundrums Technology Confronted Us With This Year

New advances in technology constantly push humanity into uncharted territory. Sometimes this territory brings us questions we might not have imagined needing answers so soon, like, "Is editing the DNA of human embryos moral?" Other questions are more familiar, only with...

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