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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.

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...

What Happens When Tech Takes Control of Evolution?

Over the span of a few billion years, diversity of life has flourished on Earth through the process of natural selection. Then, not long ago (relatively), human intelligence evolved. For the first time one species,...

New AI Mental Health Tools Beat Human Doctors at Assessing Patients

About 20 percent of youth in the United States live with a mental health condition, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. That’s the bad news. The good news is that mental health professionals have...

Lung Cancer Patient First to Undergo CRISPR Gene Editing

The CRISPR-Cas9 “drag-and-drop” gene editing technique has been used in its first human trial, reports Nature. Scientists at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China began a trial last month to treat a lung cancer patient....

New ‘Thinking Soil’ Fixes Concrete Foundations Using Engineered Bacteria

How stable are the buildings where we live and work? Our homes rest on concrete foundations about a foot thick and twelve feet deep. The foundations of skyscrapers can be up to 20 feet thick and...

Pill Packing 100 Billion Designer Bacteria Could Be Tested Next Year

Bacteria are among the oldest life forms on Earth and exist nearly everywhere; in the soil, water, deep in the earth’s crust and in our own bodies. Actually, there are at least as many...

Medicine Will Advance More in the Next 10 Years Than It Did in the Last 100

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, recently announced a $3 billion effort to cure all disease during the lifetime of their daughter, Max. Earlier this year, Silicon Valley billionaire Sean Parker donated $250...

Mice Born From Artificial Eggs a ‘Stunning Achievement’

Last month, a team of British scientists successfully made healthy, fertile mice from pseudo-egg cells that resembled fertilized embryos. The story made waves: compared to normal egg cells, the pseudo-eggs were more similar to...

Can DNA Hard Drives Solve Our Looming Data Storage Crisis?

The idea of storing digital data in DNA seems like science fiction. At first glance, it might not seem obvious that a molecule can store data. The term “data storage” conjures up images of...

The Astonishing Healthcare Tech of the Future Is Arriving

This week in San Diego, Singularity University hosted its annual Exponential Medicine conference. The conference aims to connect the dots between healthcare disciplines and cutting-edge tech by convening medical practitioners, technologists, entrepreneurs, and over...

How We’ll Stop Future Pandemics? Engineer Vaccines From the Ground Up

In 1918, the bloodiest war in history to that point ended. It was also the year another war began. Instead of humans killing one another, it was nature’s turn to wreak havoc. With an estimated...

We’ll Soon Trust AI More Than Doctors to Diagnose Disease

It probably goes without saying, but medicine has improved a lot in modern times. No one would willingly go back to the days of sketchy anesthetics and experimental surgery. We know a lot more about...

5 Billion People Need Better Healthcare — Technology Will Help Deliver It

If you’ve ever had to go into the hospital for a major medical procedure, your memory of the experience is probably pretty unpleasant. Even when all goes well, the hospital is a nerve-racking place...

How Humans Can Live 100 Healthy Years

“Paradigm changes are so hard to come up with because they require thinking outside the box.” If there was ever an industry in need of a paradigm change, it's healthcare. The World Health Organization estimated...

Writing the First Human Genome by 2026 Is Synthetic Biology’s Grand Challenge

A “top secret" meeting of scientists was held at the Langone Medical Center on Halloween 2015. Their aim? To kickstart a new Human Genome Project and build a functional human genome from the base...

3 DNA Technologies That Will Forever Change Your Home Life

You’ve likely heard that the DNA revolution is here, but we’ve yet to see it manifest in our daily lives and homes. Speaking at this year’s Exponential Medicine conference, Raymond McCauley talked about how our...

Designer Babies and the New Technology of Having Children

Recently, we looked at how exponential tech impacts sex and dating. In this post, we'll look at: Reproduction without sex Freezing your eggs to extend your reproductive timeline Designer babies Making babies without eggs Imagine a...

A Simple Blood Test Helps Cure Cancer by Catching It Early

Today, it’s an unfortunate reality, but most people have either lost a loved one to cancer or know of someone who has. Miroculus, a precision medicine startup, wants to create widespread access to affordable early-stage...

5 Tech Forces That Will Change Insurance for Good

Massive reductions in insurance costs are coming, along with a wave of disruption. Traditionally, insurance premiums are determined by actuaries, a function of big numbers, statistics and probabilities. That's what you have to do when you...

Genetic Studies Reveal Diversity of Early Human Populations — and Pin Down When We Left Africa

Humans are a success story like no other. We are now living in the Anthropocene age, meaning much of what we see around us has been made or influenced by people. Amazingly, all humans...

Mind-Controlled Nanobots Used to Release Chemicals in Living Cockroaches

This is wild: a team of Israeli scientists developed a contraption that uses a person’s brain waves to remotely control DNA-based nanorobots  — while the nanobots were inside a living cockroach. When prompted by...

Is Evolution Over? Synthetic Biology Anticipates Nature’s Next Steps

Some biological processes are so central to life as we know it that it’s tempting to assume all the key innovations in biochemistry have already happened. Processes like photosynthesis and glycolysis have existed for millennia...

Are We at the Edge of a Second Sexual Revolution?

Do you remember your first formal lesson about the birds and the bees? Our biology or health teachers stood before a classroom full of giggling, squirming preteens and told us how babies are made....

Surprisingly, Plant Microbes May Be an Answer to Our Growing Food Needs

Organizations as diverse as the United Nations and Monsanto are in agreement that we need to double our food production globally by 2050 to feed the world’s population. But our current agricultural process is one...

Peter Diamandis: We’ll Radically Extend Our Lives With New Technologies

How long do you think you’ll live? You probably have some idea, and no doubt, you can easily imagine a maximum limit. We humans tend to make it to 70, 80, or 90. The...

The Future of Healthcare Is Arriving—8 Exciting Areas to Watch

As faculty chair for Medicine and Neuroscience at Singularity University and curator of our annual Exponential Medicine conference (apply to join us this Oct 8–11th), I cross paths with many technologies which have potential...

Harvard Biologists Just Demonstrated the Most Extensive Reengineering of a Genome Yet

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have "radically rewritten" the genome of bacteria E. coli. The team has replaced 7 of its 64 codons (3-letter sequences which correspond usually to a single animo acid.) The lab, led by George...

The Synthetic Biology Era Is Here—How We Can Make the Most of It

We are entering an era of directed design in which we will expand the limited notion that biology is only the ‘study of life and living things’ and see biology as the ultimate distributed, manufacturing...

Scientists Hoped to Have Cloned a Living Woolly Mammoth by Now — Why Haven’t We?

Five years ago, we wrote about a team of Japanese scientists who predicted they would successfully clone a woolly mammoth within five years. So, why don't we have a living mammoth yet? Even though the...

We’ve Been Wrong About the Origins of Life for 90 Years

For nearly nine decades, science’s favorite explanation for the origin of life has been the “primordial soup.” This is the idea that life began from a series of chemical reactions in a warm pond...

This Is the Olympics On Technology—When Enhancement Is the Norm

For the purpose of this post, I'd like to suspend moral and ethical considerations for a moment — let’s call this a fun thought experiment. As we enter Olympics season, I find myself thinking about what...

New Robot Stingray Is Part Biological — It’s Powered by Living Heart Cells

Researchers at Harvard University have created a biohybrid stingray. No larger than the average coin, the ray contains both biological and artificial parts—rat heart cells grown on a silicon mold fitted over a 3D...

How Bacteria Will One Day Wire Your Favorite Devices

Imagine if one day the electrical wires in your cell phone were made by bacteria — and were even smaller and more conductive than today's technology. Scientists at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst imagine just...

Why the Cost of Living Is Poised to Plummet in the Next 20 Years

People are concerned about how AI and robotics are taking jobs, destroying livelihoods, reducing our earning capacity, and subsequently destroying the economy. In anticipation, countries like Canada, India and Finland are running experiments to pilot...

Check Out This Dime-Sized Van Gogh Replica—It’s Made of DNA

DNA codes for life as we know it, but in recent years, scientists have discovered more uses for the molecule. Because DNA is foldable and “sticky,” they've begun making microscopic shapes called DNA origami. Over...

CRISPR Targets Cancer in First Human Trial — What You Need to Know

It’s happening: as early as later this year, the gene-editing power tool CRISPR could be used in its first ever human trial. On Tuesday June 21, an advisory panel from the National Institute of Health...

Chisels to Genes: How We’ll Soon Grow What We Used to Build

“At the end of the day, as a society, we need to stop manufacturing everything and grow everything.”   — Jason Kelly, Founder of Gingko Bioworks Most people would agree we still have much...

Can Growing Human Organs in Pigs Solve the Organ Shortage?

Back in the 90s, a deeply disturbing image surfaced on the nascent Internet: a lab mouse with something looking like a human ear grown on its back. Although the “ear” was later proven to be...

Ray Kurzweil’s Four Big Insights for Predicting the Future

Self-driving cars, virtual reality games, bioprinting human organs, human gene editing, AI personalities, 3D printing in space, three billion people connected to the Internet…. These incredible technological feats are all part of our world today....

From Living Computers to Nano-Robots: How We’re Taking DNA Beyond Genetics

DNA is one of the most amazing molecules in nature, providing a way to carry the instructions needed to create almost any life form on Earth in a microscopic package. Now scientists are finding...

Machine Learning’s Next Trick Will Transform How Research Is Done

Though research is a slow moving and rigid process, one study shows that the rate of scientific study has exploded in the last 50 years. According to the paper, humanity’s scientific output now doubles...

Is the World Ready for Synthetic Life? Scientists Plan to Create Whole Genomes

Last weekend, an invite-only group of about 150 experts convened privately at Harvard. Behind closed doors, they discussed the prospect of designing and building an entire human genome from scratch, using only a computer,...

Nanorobots: Where We Are Today and Why Their Future Has Amazing Potential

This post is a status update on one of the most powerful tools humanity will ever create: nanotechnology (or nanotech). My goal here is to give you a quick overview of the work going on in...

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