05:27 GMT +315 October 2019
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    Human DNA Chain

    Can Gene Engineering Wipe Geniuses From the Face of Earth?

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    Genetic engineering, which aims to eliminate hereditary physical and mental diseases such as cancer and bipolar disorder, could also end the possibility of future genius-level intelligence in humanity, said Dr. Jim Kozubek, a MIT/Harvard scientist.

    Dr. Jim Kozubek, a scientist from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School, and author of the book "Modern Prometheus: Editing the Human Genome With Crispr-Cas9," believes that genetic-engineering techniques aimed at eradicating genetic disease might also eliminate the possibility of enhanced intelligence in humans. His claims come as the United States and China prepare for mass trials of the Crispr-Cas9 technique, some of which are intended to ensure that legacy diseases do not get passed to future generations.

    According to Kozubek, genius-level human intelligence, such as that found in inventors, writers, artists, and software coders, is up to ten times more prone to negative mental conditions including bipolar disorder, than humans of ordinary-level intellect.

    "Thomas Edison was ‘addled' and kicked out of school. 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," Kozubek stated.

    The author noted that certain diseases, often perceived as harmful, could be seen as beneficial, under specific conditions and circumstances. He pointed out that, according to Darwin, evolution tends to create not a perfect, universal concept of a species, but rather deviations that fit local niches.

    Genetic variations, some of them responsible for mental disorders, can be seen to be beneficial for creative thought, suggested Kozubek. With the promise of the new technology, a negative effect could be worse on a larger scale, as it may impede the emergence of future genius-level intelligence in humans.

    "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.

    In November a man in China became the first to be injected with immune cells specifically engineered to fight his lung cancer, cells that had been genetically-modified using the CRISPR technique. One year ago, scientists at Great Ormond Street Hospital and University College London used a genetic technique called TALEN to create immune cells which could eradicate leukaemia in a 17-month-old girl. That experiment was unique, because such technology had never before been tested on humans. Doctors had to apply for an emergency permission from health regulators and the hospital ethics committee to conduct the therapy.

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    evolution, genius, DNA, genetic modification, Dr. Jim Kozubek, China, United States
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