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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.

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...

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...

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