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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.

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...

Can Dead Brains Be Brought Back to Life? First Human Study to Find Out

Last month, a Philadelphia-based biotech company kicked off a clinical trial that pushes the envelope of what it means to be dead. Armed with ethical approval from the IRB at the Anupam Hospital in India,...

How Scientists Are Hacking Biology to Build at the Molecular Scale

The long vision of nanotechnology suggests tiny robot “assemblers” will swarm unseen in the air, water, and even our bodies, building anything from the atoms up. It's a wild thought and still (mostly) a dream. But looked...

Ray Kurzweil Predicts Three Technologies Will Define Our Future

This is the last in a four-part series looking at the big ideas in Ray Kurzweil's book The Singularity Is Near. ​Be sure to read the other articles: Will the End of Moore’s Law Halt...

Why We Should Teach Kids to Code Biology, Not Just Software

Almost ten years ago, Freeman Dyson ventured a wild forecast:  “I predict that the domestication of biotechnology will dominate our lives during the next fifty years at least as much as the domestication of...

CRISPR Dispute Raises Bigger Patent Issues That We’re Not Talking About

The worlds of science, technology and patent law eagerly await the U.S. government’s decision on who deserves patents on what many have referred to as the biotechnology invention of the century: the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing...

If We Don’t Own Our Genes, What Protects Study Subjects in Genetic Research?

On February 25, the White House hosted a forum on the National Institute of Health’s Precision Medicine Initiative. This is an ambitious research study that aims to develop targeted drugs and treatments that would...

Incredible ‘Living’ Alzheimer’s Implant Clears Mouse Brains of Toxic Junk

Alzheimer’s may be the cruelest of brain diseases. Decades before the first signs of dementia strike, toxic protein clumps called amyloid plaques have been slowly, insidiously building up in the brain. The plaques clog the...

How to Speak to the Dead: Gather Their DNA For Science

DNA sequencing of the deceased could lead to a number of advances in health care. A group of scientists in Denmark have launched a proposal to create the world’s first national necrogenomic database. The...

US Bets $100 Million on Machines That Think More Like Humans

“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the dusty surface of the moon on July 20, 1969, it was a victory for NASA and a victory for...

As Technology Barrels Ahead—Will Ethics Get Left in the Dust?

The battle between the FBI and Apple over the unlocking of a terrorist’s iPhone will likely require Congress to create new legislation. That’s because there really aren’t any existing laws which encompass technologies such...

Eye on the Cure: Can Algae Genes Restore Vision in First Optogenetics Human Trial?

In the next month, scientists from RetroSense Therapeutics will inject a virus deep into the retina of legally blind human volunteers. The virus will carry what is perhaps the most monumental payload in modern neuroscience...

Have We Finally Achieved Information Immortality?

The way information is stored and shared may now be forever changed thanks to a recent major five-dimensional (5D) digital data recording and retrieval announcement. Scientists from the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre...

UK Will Use CRISPR on Human Embryos — a Step Closer to Human Genome Editing

"It is human nature and inevitable in my view that we will edit our genomes for enhancements.” —J. Craig Venter This week, Kathy Niakan, a biologist working at the Francis Crick Institute in London received the...

CRISPR/Cas9 Genome Editing Is a Huge Deal, But It’s Just the Tip of the Iceberg

CRISPR/Cas9 has been touted as an almost magical technology in the news—and rightly so. The technique allows scientists to alter the DNA of living cells and, it’s hoped, achieve a longstanding goal of science...

10 Most Exciting SciTech Advances of 2015

As we near the end of 2015, here are my top 10 picks for 2015 technology breakthroughs. These genius inventions are sending us careening into a world of abundance, bold visionaries and accelerating exponential change. My...

A Big Year for Biotech: Bugs as Drugs, Precision Gene Editing, and Fake Food

Speculations around whether biotech stocks are in a bubble remain undecided for the second year in a row. But one thing stands as indisputable—the field made massive progress during 2015, and faster than anticipated. For...

Six Technologies That Hit Their Tipping Points in 2015

To the average person, it may seem that the biggest technology advances of 2015 were the larger smartphone screens and small app updates. But a lot more happened than that. A broad range of...

Longer Life in a Pill May Already Be Available at Your Local Drug Store

To most of the scientific community, “anti-aging” is a dirty word. A medical field historically associated with charlatans and quacks, scientists have strictly restricted the quest for a “longevity pill” to basic research. The paradigm...

Why We Need Government to Evolve as Fast as Technology

From deep learning to gene editing, the world of technology is moving fast. But at Singularity University, we believe amazing tech is only half the equation. Equally important is how we use technology. The...

Gene Drives Could Wipe Out Insect-Borne Disease — But What’s the Price?

In 2014, a few days after Christmas, Dr. Valentino Gantz walked into his lab at the University of California, San Diego to check on some newly hatched fruit flies. With a single look, he knew...

Exponential Medicine: The Most Detailed Snapshot of Human Health in History

Our bodies are extremely complex, interrelated, and ever-evolving patterns of information—from DNA to physiology to vital signs. But until modern times, most of that information was hidden from view. We didn’t know there was...

Exponential Medicine: The Future of the Quantified Brain

For decades it was believed the brain was a black box—the elusive central node of our operating system which we simply didn’t understand. And it’s true, scientific knowledge of the brain has been hard...

Exponential Medicine: The Most Advanced Nanotechnology Today Is Already Inside You

For me, the word nanotechnology evokes a specific image. Maybe you’re the same. It’s a machine. Perhaps a little futuristic. But something that wouldn’t seem out of place on the street or in a...

Exponential Medicine: What to Expect When You’re Expecting Designer Babies

Anywhere you look in the modern world, you’ll see humans translating science fiction into science fact. We make predictions about a far off future, and then our curiosity drives us to make it reality—whether...

Exponential Medicine: Healthcare Is Broken, Here’s How We’re Going Fix It

This week in San Diego, Singularity University is holding its Exponential Medicine Conference, a look at how technologists are redesigning and rebuilding today's broken healthcare system. (Editor's note: Singularity Hub will be covering Exponential Medicine...

How Aged Neurons In a Dish Can Accelerate Longevity Research

Aging insidiously leaves its mark on our brains. With age, our well-oiled neuronal machinery slowly breaks down: gene expression patterns turn wacky, the nuclear membrane disintegrates, and neatly organized molecules inside the cells break out...
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Will Artificial Intelligence Transform How We Grow and Consume Food? [Video]

Today, agriculture is more efficient than ever, but it's also more dependent on environmental, technological, and social issues like never before. Climate change, drought and other disasters, shifting energy landscapes, population growth, urbanization, GMOs, changes in...

A Genomics Revolution: Evolution by Natural Selection to Evolution by Intelligent Direction

Humanity is moving from evolution by natural selection (Darwinism) to evolution by intelligent direction. For most of human history, our average age was only about 26 years old. We would procreate at age 13, live just...

A Key Moment In Kenya: What Ed Tech Can Learn From the GMO Backlash

A trailblazing educational technology initiative backed by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and the World Bank has been stopped in its tracks by the government of Kenya. When it launched in 2009, Bridge International Academies served...

Brain-Controlling Sound Waves Used to Steer Genetically Modified Worms

Move over optogenetics, there’s a new cool mind-bending tool in town. A group of scientists, led by Dr. Sreekanth Chalasani at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, discovered a new way to control neurons using...

Meet the Mind-Controlling Algae Protein That Could Cure Blindness

It sounds completely crazy: as early as next year, using gene therapy scientists hope to restore sight in the blind by giving their eyes additional “light sensors.” We’re not talking about bionic eyes: instead of...

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