How Will Genetic Engineering Create SUPER GAMERS? – Gameranx (blog)

April 3, 2017

Scientists are making huge strides in genetic engineering thanks to advances in medicine and bio-modification. Heres how they could create super gamers.

Dennis Patrick / Features / featured, Gameranx, Videos /

Over the years there have been massive breakthroughs in the medical field thanks to genetic engineering. With such breakthroughs, there are bound to be new impressive discoveries in the years to come. This has us thinking as to what the advances in medicine could do for gamers and if this may bring out a race of super gamers.

We dived into the depths of the internet and came up with a theory as to how genetic engineering could create the super gamer. Check out our theory by watching the video posted right above. Likewise, let us know what you think the future of medicine could hold for gamers in particular by leaving a comment down below!

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How Will Genetic Engineering Create SUPER GAMERS? – Gameranx (blog)

Engineering a solution to genetic uniqueness – Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

By Staff Friday, April 7, 2017

In spite of my hair, no one has ever mistaken me for Einstein. In the gym, after a shower, some people have thought I was Bernie Sanders. But as soon as they started talking to me, they could see that I didnt have his native intelligence.

Science requires no experience, profession, skill or money. Luckily, I was, and am, qualified. If you are a little curious and can think clearly, you can probably do an experiment. I suppose it helps to be a little CDO (which is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder with the letters in the correct sequence). It also helps to be able to focus on a single topic for a long period of time. This requirement has hampered me throughout my career.

Being a scientist probably takes a little money, too, but much less than you might think if you listen to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Scientists seldom complete all the studies that are possible using a single tool. Every time technology comes up with a new piece of equipment scientists need it to see what they can do with it. Everyone wants the new electric microscopes when we really havent exhausted the old steam-powered microscopes yet.

Science rushes recklessly ahead. Now we have a new method of engineering genetics called CRISPR. This is an acronym for CRISPR/cas9 which stands for Clustered Regularly-Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats/CRISPR associated protein 9. Id call it CRISPR for sure if I had to say the full name too many times. One could sprain their frenulum or something trying to say all that.

The deal is that CRISPR has decreased the time and costs of genetic engineering by about 99 percent. Generally, reducing time and costs is a great boon to mankind. As a scientist, I am thrilled! However, it just occurred to me that making it faster and cheaper to destroy ourselves may not be in our best interests.

While Monsanto and the two other food monopolies are excited to make more food, now some medical scientists want to eliminate certain neurological and psychiatric diseases that have been the key to producing the great minds of history. Medical scientists seem to see variations in life as problems to be solved. There should be no deviations or abnormalities outside of a normal curve.

However, humans would be smart to notice that genetic variants contribute to psychiatric conditions that may be beneficial depending on ones environment or genetic background. For example, both Thomas Edison and Einstein were considered addled and were kicked out of school. Tennessee Williams feared the process of thought and nearly went mad. The rate of bipolar disorder is 10 times higher among writers than among the general population, and 40 times higher among poets.

I will insert a shameless self-promotion here concerning my book Between Two Mirrors, available on Amazon.

It is a mixture of science essays by a scientist with a spotty record in public school and poetry by the same person, who some continue to believe may have mental problems.

In short, genetic engineering shows a gross misunderstanding of evolution.

Evolution does not progress toward some ideal species where each individual is identical to the others. Instead, it tinkers around the edges of a species toward adaptation to some local niche that itself changes as the species change. It is impossible to predict the result of evolution because the environment selects the species, and the selected species alters the environment. The best one can say is that evolution produces diversity.

Unruly white hair is a characteristic of old, white males of European descent and, in and of itself, is not a sign of genius. However, mental aberrations are not always something to be eliminated. They may be capable of enriching mankind beyond what one might expect. If CRISPR had been available 72 years ago, you might have been spared this column. However, Id have had a lot less fun.

Gary McCallister, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), is a professor emeritus of biological sciences at Colorado Mesa University.

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Engineering a solution to genetic uniqueness – Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

CRISPR crops focused on sustainable farming could soften African … – Genetic Literacy Project

[Nteranya Sanginga is director general of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.]

The role of genetic engineering in agriculture and food has generated enormous interest and controversies, with large-scale embrace by some nations and wholesale bans by others.

Many studies have been done and much research remains to be done on the impact genetically modified organisms (GMO) can have on broader food systems.

Fast-moving developments, however, suggest that lines drawn in the sand both for or against the broader use of GMOs risk becoming a distraction, particularly in Africa.

It appears we are on the brink of a deluge of new discoveries many of which may not need the kind of capital-intensive agricultural operations where GMOs were first developed and can instead directly address the needs of smallholders in developing countries and the specific food and nutrition security and climate change challenges they face.

Genome editing can now economically be applied to the crop cultivars that farmers in a given locale prefer, consisting of highly targeted interventions that can address specific challenges, and dont take years of breeding to consolidate.

Its a new world. Lets have a new debate, not the old one.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post:The Challenge Ahead: Harnessing Gene Editing to Sustainable Agriculture

For more background on the Genetic Literacy Project, read GLP on Wikipedia

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CRISPR crops focused on sustainable farming could soften African … – Genetic Literacy Project

Marthlize Tredoux: Why genetic engineering is not all bad – Wine Magazine

My previous post on pesticides attracted some interest, so I wanted to follow up with simple to digest bits about the upsides of genetic engineering. Ill tie it back to why it might eventually be a critical technology for application in the vineyards too (since this is WineMag). Pass the smelling salts for everyone who just fainted at that and lets get started.

Again, a quick clarification on some terms used.

Since RoundUp/glyphosate is quickly becoming a straw man in this whole debate, Ill pull in a few different examples of existing and potential advancements. There are, of course, concerns about GE tech. Maybe Ill round out this tangent with a third piece focusing on the real issues vs the imagined ones. But for today, I want to focus on the good stuff:

Bt crops with built-in pesticidesBt toxins (proteins from a bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis) have been inserted into transgenic crops to confer resistance against certain insects. In 2013, Bt brinjals were introduced commercially in Bangladesh as part of GM trials. To date, it has been planted on 12 ha across 120 farms. These farmers have cut pesticide use by 80% so far a rate which would not only alleviate negative environmental effects but also the health of farmers. Farmers are also reporting unprecedented increases in yield, which bodes well for their economic well-being.

Golden Rice the unavailable lifesaverThis one kills me. But not literally. Not like Vitamin A deficiency kills thousands of children annually, and leaves many thousands more disabled. Between 250,000 350,000 children go blind each year due to Vitamin A Deficiency. Golden Rice a GE cultivar enriched with Vitamin A has been available since 2002. Syngenta had been key in developing the technology and essentially made it freely available for use, in an attempt to bypass opposition from the anti-GMO lobby. It didnt work. The technology was opposed and Golden Rice remains unused aside from a handful of free licenses for subsistence farming not nearly the potential scale to make a significant difference in communities severely affected by malnutrition.

Organic cotton a celebrity gets it wrongIn 2016, Emma Watson wore a Calvin Klein dress, made in collaboration with green consultancy Eco-Age. Via Instagram, Ms Watson extolled the virtues of organic cotton above conventional, specifically that organic cotton is farmed without using harmful chemicals. It seems that Hermione didnt do her homework this time around though. The Bt technology I mentioned previously is also in cotton. While not as harmful as, say, copper sulfate, organic cotton farmers do spray their crops with Bt and other substances to battle severe crop damage from insects. Farmers growing Bt cotton have reduced their insecticide spraying significantly. States like Oklahoma report yields doubling over the past 20 years, improved fibre quality, better weed control and insecticide use down by more than 50%. You know what that is? Thats an improvement in sustainability. Impressive, no?

What about grapevine?The potential for GE technology in grapevine (including whats being worked on and what has been proposed) is a topic for discussion all on its own. It should definitely be noted that the potential application for GE technology is not limited to pest control. The creeping effects of climate change will eventually irrevocably change the viticulture landscape. The ability of different regions to produce quality grapes will change as rainfall and temperatures rise or fall outside the ideal conditions for grape growing.

If a technology was available to mitigate these effects a grapevine that can deal with increased CO2 levels, or one that is able to produce equivalent yield at higher temperatures and prolong a wine regions lifespan in the face of major climate shifts, isnt that something we need to consider reasonably, and without hysteria?

Tagged Marthlize Tredoux

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Marthlize Tredoux: Why genetic engineering is not all bad – Wine Magazine

Shortcuts? Insulin, other medicines developed faster with genetic engineering – Genetic Literacy Project

Given that its accomplishments include the domestication of plants and animals, biotechnology is practically synonymous with civilization itselfOver the last couple of centuries, a more systematic approach has been devised.

An explosion of discoveries in the 19th and 20th centuries ushered in the modern era of biotechnologyLearning about everything from enzymes to hormones to vitamins meant medical researchers could deliberately design drugs to target specific problems. The new information also showed them how to go about producing these medications by tapping into natural biological processes.

The main steps of biotech medication development consist of determining the biologic source of a desired medication, mass-producing the source, extracting and purifying the medication, and preparing the medication for use.

The introduction of genetic engineering has altered the first step in creating biotech medicine. Instead of simply identifying a biological entity that produces the desired substance, an organism is literally created for this purpose.

For more sophisticated pharmaceuticals, engineered animal cells are used instead of bacteria.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: How are Biotechnology Medicines Made?

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Shortcuts? Insulin, other medicines developed faster with genetic engineering – Genetic Literacy Project

The world is running out of water. But genetic engineering can help – CityMetric

In the village of Kafr on the western edge of Greater Cairo you can see this almost color-coded conflict.

Its not a village in the traditional sense though. Brick high-rises stretch ten or 12 stories into the air between fields of alfalfa and leeks.

This is the most ubiquitous architecture of Egypts capital: unpainted red brick buildings that, when combined with their concrete beams and columns, look like Brutalist takes on plaid. Until the 1970s most bricks came from nearby, made from Nile silt, which also provided the rich topsoil that provided the foundation for agriculture in Egypt.

These brick buildings and farmland are now in direct competition with each other for space.

Most new construction in Egypt is on that agricultural land, despite a complete ban on the practice. Each year, 16,000 acres of agricultural land are built on, according to 10 Tooba, an independent urbanism organization.

The fertile Nile Delta, at the base of which Cairo sits, seen from space. Image: NASA

With only 2.75 per cent percent of Egypts land suitable for farming, and decreasing on a per capita basis, the land becomes more precious each day.

Kamel Sayyed moved to Kafr six years ago from another nearby village to take advantage of the cheaper rents. He rented an apartment then for 300 Egyptian pounds (EGP) a month, or 45 at the time.

Soon though, growth exploded. Building was long illegal and enforcement piecemeal, but when Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011, a security vacuum started a blitz on illegal building.

Sayyed says that almost immediately after Mubarak was forced from office, heavy machinery started digging foundations. Steel, concrete, and brick prices increased overnight. Egypts Informal Settlements Development Fund, a government organization, said there was a 10 to 20 per cent increase in three years.

South of Cairo, hundreds of smoke stacks extend to the horizon for as far as the eye can see. Each of these furnaces can churn out 250,000 red bricks everyday, feeding the citys appetite for housing and development. This summer, only two or three were operating, as fuel prices were outpacing how much the factoriescould sell.

Development in Cairo has become sprawling and indiscriminate. Image: Allan Doyle

The government has encouraged development on desert land, in new satellite cities, and suburban-gated communities. One former Egyptian prime minister even referred to the escape from the Nile Valley as a matter of life and death.

These new cities, as they are known in Egypt, get 29.8 billion EGP in investment, while existing cities got 28.4 billion. New cities only host about two per cent of Egypts population, though.

For the 16,000 acres of rural land thats built on each year, Shawkat says that only 4,000 acres of desert land are developed. Rural growth rates are doing something in Egypt that doesnt happen in most of the Global South outpacing urban growth. Still, Cairo is listed as the fastest growing city worldwide in terms of population.

Part of building on agricultural land is because there is need, says Yahia Shawkat of 10 Tooba. There is a human, other part, which is speculation: land prices or property prices are really the only thing sort of rising in terms of value in Egypt.

Urbanizing agricultural land is much, much more profitable than tilling it.

With 52 per cent of farmers in the country being small farmers, the difference in profit presents a straightforward economic choice for many, for the time being.

Building on agricultural land in Kafr has become an industry. Sitting in his office in Kafr, Hany Mahmouf Hafez, who works in construction, says that a single apartment can fetch at least 6,950, while a floor can cost between 900 and 1,400 to build. By comparison, an acre of land can bring in 90 or 140 a year. A woman picking out paint interrupted to say that its the best way to make money in the town.

Whether agricultural land will remain less profitable is up for debate.

Since Egypt floated its currency, agriculture seems more profitable, with food exports rising and imports declining.

For many, real estate was seen as a hedge against a declining currency. With the floatation, real estate might not be as good an investment in the short or medium term.

The Nile runs through Cairo’s heart.Image: Blueshade

The proposed legislation is an outright ban on building on agricultural land, but that is far from the reality. The idea is to freeze the encroachment of cities into farmland and push it out into the desert, hence the massive investment into new cities.

But informal settlements that encroached onto farmland had what the new communities didnt. They were near existing networks of water, sewage, and electricit, and even though they couldnt be connected legally, a contractor could pay a bribe.

Contractors can pay 230 for an apartment to get power, or 900 for a full building to be connected to the grid. In order to prevent the huge drains on the power grid, the Egyptian government has put these informal settlements in a legal grey area by a partial legalization of unofficial power meters.

Its a tricky problem. The outright ban isnt working due to a lack of so-called soft infrastructure. The government has built roads, pipes, and power lines, but hasnt provided enough schools, hospitals, and cultural activities to make living there make sense.

Its difficult to think about how to allow rural growth, when ideally it would be minimized. Shawkat says there are ways to build in growth in a way that is sustainable.

Ill do it in a certain density and a certain way that would actually I would lose maybe ten acres, but Im going to save 50.

Whether the government plans to do that isnt clear, and the long-term plan for food security is similarly hazy.

In the longer term, Egypt may need to learn to break with thousands of years of tradition, and start growing horizontally east to west, rather than north to south along the Nile.

If it cant, Egypts burgeoning cities will choke the fertile farmland of the Nile on which its heritage was built.

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The world is running out of water. But genetic engineering can help – CityMetric

Venter discusses genetic engineering, human longevity – The Daily Princetonian

In a quote written on a chalkboard in the Caltech archives, Richard Feynman said, What I cannot create, I do not understand.

This quote is the root of inspiration for geneticist J. Craig Venters research and scientific mission. Genomics is at an exciting stage today where what we understand about the genome can be applied directly to human health, Venter said in a lecture titled From Synthetic Life to Human Longevity on Wednesday.

Venter explained that there was no point in increasing lifespan alone, but the challenge was to increase an individuals healthspan. He stated that 40 percent of men and 24 percent of women between the ages of 50-74 in the United States do not reach the age of 74. A third of this population dies of cardiovascular disease and another third of cancer, leaving all other causes of death to just a third of the overall percentage, he said.

Venter, co-founder of Human Longevity, Inc., said that his goal was to change medicines approach to being proactive, predictive, personalized, and preventative by using whole genome sequencing and cutting-edge imaging and measurement technology. Early detection is literally lifesaving, he said, explaining that over 40 percent of people who entered his lab thinking they were healthy turned out not to be.

He said that his own genome showed an increased risk for prostate cancer, which he corroborated with a measure of his testosterone levels. While men with over 22 triplet repeats of a certain sequence on their X chromosome have very low incidences of prostate cancer, Venter said he only had six, which placed him on the extremely low end of the spectrum. He said that based on his genome sequence and testosterone readings, he underwent a prostatectomy a few months ago.

Early prediction of diseases like Alzheimers, which can be predicted 20 years in advance of the first symptoms by using whole-genome sequencing and neuro-quant data, can be prevented with the right drugs, Venter noted. He added that the same could be done with cancer tumors, and there was the potential to move to entirely preventative cancer vaccines, something that already exists for some forms of the disease.

Venter said that genotype could predict not only disease but also other phenotypes. His Face Project uses machine learning to reconstruct a three-dimensional human face from the genome alone, he noted. Venter also said that recordings of a voice could be used to predict the speakers age, sex, and height.

All of this information comes from about 40,000 genome sequences that has produced over 20 petabytes of data, Venter explained. He added that the sequencing of one million human genomes could produce one quintillion bytes of data, an amount that nobody in the world knows how to handle, yet the government could not be convinced that genomics was a big data problem. Sequencing the first human genome, a project whose private arm was spearheaded by Venter, took over nine years, cost more than a billion dollars, and, in 1999, had the third largest computer in the world built solely for that purpose, he explained.

Venters other major project was the synthesis of a living organism from scratch, which he and his team at the J. Craig Venter Institute accomplished in 2008 by converting digital binary bits into an organism that could live on its own.

The day we announced this, both the President and the Pope released statements, with the President calling for this to be the number one priority of the bioethics committee, and the Pope reassuring people that we had not actually created life, but just changed one of lifes motors, he said.

Venters team also discovered that the genome could be modularized so that entire sets of genes could be classified as metabolism, for example, and inserted into the genome. He said that to distinguish this synthetic life from existing organisms, into the genome of the organism was coded the names of the forty scientists that worked on the project, and quotations from James Joyce, Robert Oppenheimer, and Feynman.

Venter explained that despite having created an entirely new organism, scientists still do not understand the functions of a third of the genes, only that they appear throughout the biological tree and are necessary for the organisms survival.

Like any good science, we found out how little we know rather than how much we know, Venter said.

The event, part of the Princeton Public Lectures Vanuxem Lecture Series, was attended by members of the community in addition to Princeton students and faculty. The lecture took place in McCosh 50 at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

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Venter discusses genetic engineering, human longevity – The Daily Princetonian

A new tool for genetically engineering the oldest branch of life – Phys.Org

March 8, 2017 G. William Arends Professor of Microbiology and theme leader of the IGB’s Mining Microbial Genomes theme Bill Metcalf, left, with IGB Fellow Dipti Nayak. Credit: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

A new study by G. William Arends Professor of Microbiology at the University of Illinois Bill Metcalf with postdoctoral Fellow Dipti Nayak has documented the use of CRISPR-Cas9 mediated genome editing in the third domain of life, Archaea, for the first time. Their groundbreaking work, reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has the potential to vastly accelerate future studies of these organisms, with implications for research including global climate change. Metcalf and Nayak are members of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at Illinois.

“Under most circumstances our model archaeon, Methanosarcina acetivorans, has a doubling time of eight to ten hours, as compared to E. coli, which can double in about 30 minutes. What that means is that doing genetics, getting a mutant, can take monthsthe same thing would take three days in E. coli,” explains Nayak. “What CRISPR-Cas9 enables us to do, at a very basic level, is speed up the whole process. It removes a major bottleneck… in doing genetics research with this archaeon.

“Even more,” continues Nayak, “with our previous techniques, mutations had to be introduced one step at a time. Using this new technology, we can introduce multiple mutations at the same time. We can scale up the process of mutant generation exponentially with CRISPR.”

CRISPR, short for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, began as an immune defense system in archaea and bacteria. By identifying and storing short fragments of foreign DNA, Cas (CRISPR-associated system) proteins are able to quickly identify that DNA in the future, so that it can then quickly be destroyed, protecting the organism from viral invasion.

Since its discovery, a version of this immune systemCRISPR-Cas9has been modified to edit genomes in the lab. By pairing Cas9 with a specifically engineered RNA guide rather than a fragment of invasive DNA, the CRISPR system can be directed to cut a cell’s genome in an arbitrary location such that existing genes can be removed or new ones added. This system has been prolifically useful in editing eukaryotic systems from yeast, to plant, to fish and even human cells, earning it the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s 2015 Breakthrough of the Year award. However, its implementation in prokaryotic species has been met with hurdles, due in part to their different cellular processes.

To use CRISPR in a cellular system, researchers have to develop a protocol that takes into account a cell’s preferred mechanism of DNA repair: after CRISPR’s “molecular scissors” cut the chromosome, the cell’s repair system steps in to mend the damage through a mechanism that can be harnessed to remove or add additional genetic material. In eukaryotic cells, this takes the form of Non-Homologous End Joining (NHEJ). Though this pathway has been used for CRISPR-mediated editing, it has the tendency to introduce genetic errors during its repair process: nucleotides, the rungs of the DNA ladder, are often added or deleted at the cut site.

NHEJ is very uncommon in prokaryotes, including Archaea; instead, their DNA is more often repaired through a process known as homology-directed repair. By comparing the damage to a DNA template, homology-directed repair creates what Nayak calls a “deterministic template”the end result can be predicted in advance and tailored to the exact needs of the researcher.

In many ways, homology-directed repair is actually preferable for genome editing: “As much as we want CRISPR-Cas9 to make directed edits in eukaryotic systems, we often end up with things that we don’t want, because of NHEJ,” explains Nayak. “In this regard, it was a good thing that most archaeal strains don’t have a non-homologous end joining repair system, so the only way DNA can be repaired is through this deterministic homologous repair route.”

Though it may seem counter-intuitive, one of Nayak and Metcalf’s first uses of CRISPR-Cas9 was to introduce an NHEJ mechanism in Methanosarcina acetivorans. Though generally not preferable for genome editing, says Nayak, NHEJ has one use for which it’s superior to homologous repair: “If you just want to delete a gene, if you don’t care how … non-homologous end joining is actually more efficient.”

By using the introduced NHEJ repair system to perform what are known as “knock-out” studies, wherein a single gene is removed or silenced to see what changes are produced and what processes that gene might affect, Nayak says that future research will be able to assemble a genetic atlas of M. acetivorans and other archaeal species. Such an atlas would be incredibly useful for a variety of fields of research involving Archaea, including an area of particular interest to the Metcalf lab, climate change.

“Methanosarcina acetivorans is the one of the most genetically tractable archaeal strains,” says Nayak. “[Methanogens are] a class of archaea that produce gigatons of this potent greenhouse gas every year, play a keystone role in the global carbon cycle, and therefore contribute significantly to global climate change.” By studying the genetics of this and similar organisms, Nayak and Metcalf hope to gain not only a deeper understanding of archaeal genetics, but of their role in broader environmental processes.

In all, this research represents an exciting new direction in studying and manipulating archaea. “We began this research to determine if the use of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing in archaea was even possible,” concludes Nayak. “What we’ve discovered is that it’s not only possible, but it works remarkably well, even as compared to eukaryotic systems.”

Explore further: Modifying fat content in soybean oil with the molecular scissors Cpf1

More information: Dipti D. Nayak et al, Cas9-mediated genome editing in the methanogenic archaeon, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1618596114

A team from the Center for Genome Engineering, within the Institute for Basic Research (IBS), succeeded in editing two genes that contribute to the fat contents of soybean oil using the new CRISPR-Cpf1 technology: an alternative …

Although the genome editing system known as CRISPR/Cas has revolutionized genetic research in cell lines, its overall efficiency has been relatively poor when used to generate genetically altered animals for disease modeling. …

Researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) have harnessed the power of CRISPR/Cas9 to create more-potent chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells that enhance tumor rejection in mice. The unexpected findings, …

Rest easy, folks. Armies of genetically modified super-species are unlikely to conquer Earth anytime soon.

A unique gene-editing method that efficiently inserts DNA into genes located in dividing and non-dividing cells of living rats has been developed by a team of international researchers, including scientists from KAUST.

CRISPR-Cas9 is a powerful new tool for editing the genome. For researchers around the world, the CRISPR-Cas9 technique is an exciting innovation because it is faster and cheaper than previous methods. Now, using a molecular …

A team of researchers with members from several institutions in India has found evidence of ostrich relatives living in India as far back as 25,000 years ago. In their paper uploaded to the open access site PLOS ONE, the …

Geneticists from the Universities of Manchester and Bath are celebrating the discovery of the elusive ‘greenbeard gene’ that helps explain why organisms are more likely to cooperate with some individuals than others

There have been many attempts to modify this stubborn little enzyme, but none have succeeded. Until now. With new findings from Chalmers University of Technology, the fatty acid synthase (FAS) enzyme has started to produce …

EPFL scientists have carried out a genomic and evolutionary study of a large and enigmatic family of human proteins, to demonstrate that it is responsible for harnessing the millions of transposable elements in the human …

An international research team has discovered a biochemical pathway that is responsible for the development of moss cuticles. These waxy coverings of epidermal cells are the outer layer of plants and protect them from water …

A new study involving biologists from Monash University Australia has found that despite their very different ancestors, dolphins and crocodiles evolved similarly-shaped skulls to feed on similar prey.

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A new tool for genetically engineering the oldest branch of life – Phys.Org

Genetic Engineering Can Help Curb Pesticide Use – Financial Tribune

Per capita consumption of pesticides in Iran is around 400 grams per year as opposed to 70 grams in the European countries and 80 grams in the United States, the head of Iranian Genetics Society said. Mahmoud Tavallaei added that biotechnology can help reduce the amount of pesticides used in the agriculture sector, IRNA reported. According to Samira Kahak, secretary of the Biosafety Society of Irans Consulting Council, genetic engineering can reduce pesticide consumption by 37% and improve agricultural production and farmers income by 22% and 68% respectively. Genetically modified organisms can be defined as plants, animals or microorganisms in which the DNA has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. The technology is often called modern biotechnology or genetic engineering.

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Genetic Engineering Can Help Curb Pesticide Use – Financial Tribune

Environmentalists should embrace ‘green genetic engineering’ of crops using CRISPR, German organic researchers says – Genetic Literacy Project

[Editors note: The following is a Q&A with Urs Niggli, director of the Research Institute for Organic Agriculture in Germany. It has been translated from German by Google.]

New techniques are currently revolutionizing genetic research. They allow extremely precise changes to the genome. This so-called genetic surgery changes the debate about the risks and chances of interventions in the genome.

Urs Niggli

Mr. Niggli is currently discussing a new form of Green Genetic Engineering . The so-called CRISPR/Cas method is the focus of the debate.

What could be achieved with this procedure?

[T]here are already new varieties of wheat, maize, millet, rice and tomato. For farmers even for eco-farmers the new method opens up many opportunities: plants that are better suited to difficult environmental conditions such as drought, soil dampness or salinization can be bred. The fine root architecture could be improved so that the roots absorb more nutrients such as phosphorus or nitrogen from the soil. Tolerance or resistance to diseases and parasites, storage and quality of food and feed could also be improved. Critics like to dismiss these possibilities as empty promises. I think these are obviously ecological improvements that can reduce the big problems of conventional agriculture.

I strongly advocate a case-by-case approach and am opposed to a general demonization of the new genetic engineering.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post:Eco-researcher: I am against a general demonization of the new genetic engineering (IN GERMAN)

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Environmentalists should embrace ‘green genetic engineering’ of crops using CRISPR, German organic researchers says – Genetic Literacy Project

Breaking Bread: GMO labeling due on packaged foods by summer 2018 – Columbus Dispatch

Last year, Congress passed a law requiringthat foods containing genetically modified ingredients reveal that on their labels.

By the summer of 2018, the marketing division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is charged with definingwhat that label will say.

Will it actually list the ingredients (as in: This product contains genetically modified corn and soy), or will it be a QR codeconnecting the consumer to the information on a website?

The debate over the labels wording could prove as contentious as the fight over genetically modified organisms themselves.

GMOs are plants whose DNA has been changed. The development is beyond the typical cross-breeding of plants because the changes are made in the laboratory at the cellular level.

Opponents of GMOs fought hard for the labeling. They consider GMOsless safe than non-GMO foods, have ethical concerns about tampering with nature,have issues with the corporations behind GMO seed (namely Monsanto), and fear environmental damage from widespread GMO crops.

GMOs were developed 20 years ago to help farmers by changing the structure of plants to make them more resistant to disease so that farms could produce higher yields while applying fewer pesticides.GMOs are produced mostly for commodity crops: corn, soy, canola and sugar beet.

Recently, I had the chance to sit in while a group of Ohio food manufacturers learned about the new labeling law from Steve Armstrong of EAS Consulting.

Armstrong is a lawyer who specializes in food labeling and food-regulation compliance;until recently, he served as the chief food-law counsel for Campbell’s Soup Co. Armstrong traveled to Columbus to speak at the Ohio Food Industry Summit, sponsored by the Center for Innovative Food Technology in Toledo.

Armstrongs time at Campbells is significant because, under his counsel, the company adopted a corporate strategy not tooppose GMO labeling but to embrace the transparency.

He encouraged the Ohio food makers at the summit to do the same.

Some already are.

Orrville-based J.M. SmuckerCo. already has introduced its labeling: On the back of a jar of apricot preserves, for example, you might be surprised to read: Partially produced with genetic engineering.

Farmers, food manufacturers and the companies that produce genetically modified seed fought hard to avoid the labeling. Their fight made consumers trust GMOs even less, Armstrong emphasized, as consumers wondered what the industries were trying to cover up.

Armstrong pointed to recent research showing that 87 percent of global consumers think that GMOs are less safe andless healthy than non-GMO foods. This despite statements to the contrary from theUSDA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, World Health Organization, American Medical Association and National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

Armstrongs point is this: Consumers want to know everything about their food where it comes from, whats in it, who produced it. Such knowledge is theconsumer’s right, Armstrong emphasized.

Soon, however, consumers might see their concerns about GMOs tested in a new way. The Arctic Apple, a fruit sold sliced that is genetically modified to not turn brown, is about to hit grocery stores nationwide. It represents the first GMO convenience product rather than a commodity ingredient such as corn syrup and producers want to see how Americans will react to it.

Scientific advancements in food production have helped to feed a hungry world, and thats a good thing. Iknow that the canola oil I often use probably comes from aGMO plant, and I don’t think I’m suffering negative effects from it.

But I have concerns about corporate domination over the seed forAmerican commodity crops. And an apple that doesnt brown,although it might be perfectly safe, strikes me asdownright unnatural. Convenient, yes, but unnatural nonetheless.

Eventually, there might be enough research to convince everyone that GMOs are safe, or to prove that they’re not.

Until then,providing as much information to consumers as possible is the right thing to do.

Lisa Abraham is the Dispatch food editor.



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Breaking Bread: GMO labeling due on packaged foods by summer 2018 – Columbus Dispatch

Genetic Engineering to Alter mRNA to Pave a New Way for Cancer Treatment – Mobile Magazine

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Genetic Engineering to Alter mRNA to Pave a New Way for Cancer Treatment
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Stanford University is a private research university in Stanford, California, adjacent to Palo Alto and between San Jose and San Francisco. Stanford had expanded their research and has now ventured into scientific research about vaccines. They have …

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Genetic Engineering to Alter mRNA to Pave a New Way for Cancer Treatment – Mobile Magazine

Will Sickle Cell Be the Next Disease Genetic Engineering Cures? – Gizmodo

Sickle cell disease. Image: Flickr

Sickle cell disease is a slow, vicious killer. Most people diagnosed with the red blood cell disorder in the US live to be between 40 and 60. But those years are a lifetime of pain, as abnormal, crescent-shaped hemoglobin stops up blood flow and deprives tissues of oxygen, causing frequent bouts of agony, along with more severe consequences like organ damage. Now, after decades of searching for a cure, researchers are announcing that, in at least one patient, they seem to have found a very promising treatment.

Two years ago, a French teen with sickle cell disease underwent a gene therapy treatment intended to help his red blood cells from sickling. In a paper published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers revealed that today, half of his red blood cells have normal-shaped hemoglobin. He has not needed a blood transfusion, which many sickle cell patients receive to reduce complications from the disease, since three months after his treatment. He is also off all medicines.

To reiterate, the paper is a case study of just one patient. Bluebird Bio, the Massachusetts biotech company that sponsored the clinical trial, has treated at least six other trials underway in the US and France, but those results have not yet been fully reported. The gene therapy has not worked quite as well in some of those other patients; researchers say they are adjusting the therapy accordingly. It is also possible that the boy may eventually experience some blood flow blockages again in the future.

The results, though early, are encouraging. They represent the promise of new genetics technologies to address a disease that has long been neglected and tinged with racism. Sickle cell disease affects about 100,000 people in the US, most of whom are black. It is an inherited genetic disease caused by a mutation of a single letter in a persons genetic code.

This single-letter mutation makes it a promising candidate for cutting edge technologies, like the gene-editing technique CRISPR-Cas9, and other gene therapies. Recently, a rush of new research has sought to address it. Two other gene therapy studies for sickle cell are underway in the US one at UCLA and another at Cincinnati Childrens Hospital. Yet another is about to start in a collaboration between Harvard and Boston Childrens Hospital. Last fall, researchers all demonstrated the ability to correct the mutation in human cells using CRISPR, though that strategy will yet have to surpass significant scientific and political hurdles before reaching clinical trials.

In the new study, researchers took bone marrow stem cells from the boy and fed them corrected versions of a gene that codes for beta-globin, a protein that helps produce normal hemoglobin. The hope was that those altered stem cells would interfere with the boys faulty proteins and allow his red blood cells to function normally. They continued the transfusions until the transplanted cells began to produce normal-shaped hemoglobin. In the following months, the numbers of those cells continued to increase until in December 2016, they accounted for more than half the red blood cells in his body. In other words, so far so good.

Currently, the only long-term treatment for sickle cell disease is a bone marrow transplant, a high-risk, difficult procedure which many patients are not even eligible for. Pain and other side-effects are treated with blood transfusions for temporary relief. New technologies offer the hope of a solution that could provide long-term relief and allow patients to live some semblance of a normal life.

For decades, gene therapies have been touted as a cure for everything. But so far, successes have been infrequent, and often for very rare diseases. But early success in treating sickle cell disease means that soon, if were lucky, the benefits of this technology may reach hundreds of thousands of people.

[New England Journal of Medicine]

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Will Sickle Cell Be the Next Disease Genetic Engineering Cures? – Gizmodo

Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan weighs in on future of genetic engineering – Daily News & Analysis

Venkatraman Venki’ Ramakrishnan, the Indian born structural biologist who shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009 with two other scientists, cautioned against the risks associated with recent developments in biotechnology. Ramakrishnan spoke about the issue at the annual meeting of the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston.

Many of the genetic cells could be treated by removing cells from the body and modifying it, he said while addressing one of the major ethical concerns related to genetic engineering. Treating a well-known genetic disease is something that many people would agree with. It gets trickier when someone says, I consider being a brown guy in today’s atmosphere a problem and don’t want my children to go through that’.

Currently the President of the Royal Society of London, he said, I grew up in India where lot of people still don’t have access to enough food, and cancer survival rates remain one of the lowest in the world. But in UK and US people have far greater access to healthcare. He added, When we decide what to do with the technology that we have, we need to consider not only what we can do, but also what we should do. He also said that the benefits of new technology should not be limited to a few rich countries.

Genetic engineering remains a debated topic among the scientists as well as the general people. We now have a much wider range of tools at our disposal. They are making genetic manipulation faster, easier and simpler, Ramakrishnan said referring to the easier production of insulin, vaccines and the availability of genetically modified crops that give a better yield.

The Nobel laureate was of the opinion that scientists need to address the concerns that the people have and that there must be public debate along with robust science.

If you were to say wipe out mosquitoes, many people won’t complain. This may not necessarily be the right thing to do, he explained. There is a natural worry if you would be able to reverse it if there was some kind of problem, he said. Referring to the food shortage in many of the developing countries including India, he pointed out that technology like genetic engineering of crops could help us increase the yield.

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Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan weighs in on future of genetic engineering – Daily News & Analysis

Netflix Movie ‘Okja’ Teases Uncontrolled Genetic Modification | Inverse – Inverse

The potential and power of genetic engineering looms over the first trailer released for the upcoming Netflix film Okja. Directed by Snowpiercers Bong Joon-ho, the films star is a genetically modified animal who is friends with a young girl and is being hunted by a multinational company. This companys business is genetic modification, and its headed by an icy-blond Tilda Swinton. While Okja is being pegged as science fiction, the fictional part of this film is actually pretty slim: The science that it would take to make such a creature is already in the works.

I took nature and science, Swintons character says in the trailer, clasping her hands. And I synthesized. Shes talking about the massive animal at the heart of the story.

We dont know too much about it: Den of Geek reports that the animal was an experiment that is now growing rapidly, while the films description in Korean describes Okja as somewhere between human and animal. The new trailer only gives us a small look at the creature, whose shape appears to be a pig-hippo crossover with tender brown eyes.

That genetic modification would create a massive creature is not preposterous: Scientists have already used CRISPR technology to increase the size and mass of common animals. In 2015, biotech company AquaBounty Technologies revealed that it genetically modified Atlantic salmon by adding a growth hormone gene and a promoter of an antifreeze gene to the fish. This created much larger salmon that grow at a speed two times faster than average. Double-muscled beagles broke into the CRISPR scene in early 2016, when Chinese researchers from the Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health announced they used CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology to delete the myostatin gene from the normally small-muscled dogs. These beagles not only look like theyre on steroids theyre stronger and can run faster than their unmodified peers.

Real-life animals that seem more suited for a fantasy novel arent out of the question either: In a 2016 essay in The American Journal of Bioethics, professors Hank Greely and R. Alta Charo argue that creating a dragon yes, a dragon wasnt impossible with CRISPR technology. Sure, physics would prevent it from actually spitting out fire, but a very large reptile that looks at least somewhat like the European or Asian dragon (perhaps with flappable if not flyable wings) could be someones target of opportunity, they write.

And if Okja is indeed somewhere between human and animal and this is a literal explanation, rather than an anthropomorphic sentiment the science is almost there as well. At the end of January, scientists declared they had created pig-human chimeras. These embryos were less than 0.001 percent human and were created with the hope that they could one day allow us to grow human organs inside animals not actual pig-humans. Still, its proof that what seemed like science fiction only decade prior can actually become a reality. Okja the film may seem like science fiction when its released this June, but it could very well be pegged as a documentary in the years to come.

Photos via Giphy/YouTube

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Netflix Movie ‘Okja’ Teases Uncontrolled Genetic Modification | Inverse – Inverse

FDA, EPA approve 3 types of genetically engineered potatoes – CBS News

BOISE, Idaho — Three types of potatoes genetically engineered to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine are safe for the environment and safe to eat, federal officials have announced.

The approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration late last week gives Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Company permission to plant the potatoes this spring and sell them in the fall.

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The company said the potatoes contain only potato genes, and that the resistance to late blight, the disease that caused the Irish potato famine, comes from an Argentine variety of potato that naturally produced a defense.

The three varieties are the Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic. Theyve previously been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

All three varieties have the same taste and texture and nutritional qualities as conventional potatoes, said Simplot spokesman Doug Cole.

Late blight thrives in the type of wetter conditions that led to the Irish potato famine in the 1840s. Potatoes were a main staple, but entire crops rotted in the field. Historical records say about a million people died of starvation and disease, and the number of Irish who emigrated might have reached several million.

Potatoes in modern times are considered the fourth food staple crop in the world behind corn, rice and wheat. Late blight continues to be a major problem for potato growers, especially in wetter regions. Fungicides have been used for decades to prevent the blight.

Simplot says the genetically engineered potatoes reduce the use of fungicide by half.

The company said the potatoes will also have reduced bruising and black spots, enhanced storage capacity, and a reduced amount of a chemical created when potatoes are cooked at high temperatures thats a potential carcinogen.

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Conventional potatoes can turn a dark color when cooked after they were kept cold for too long, a problem Simplot said the three new varieties reduce. The company also said the enhanced cold storage will likely have significant ramifications for the potato chip industry by reducing trucking costs.

There is no evidence that genetically modified organisms, known as GMOs, are unsafe to eat, but for some people, altering the genetic code of foods presents an ethical issue. McDonalds continues to decline to use Simplots genetically engineered potatoes for its French fries.

Simplot often notes the potatoes contain only potato genes, and not DNA from an unrelated organism. Organisms that contain DNA from an unrelated organism are defined as transgenic.

The Washington state-based Non-GMO Project that opposes GMOs and verifies non-GMO food and products said Simplots new potatoes dont qualify as non-GMO.

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By some estimates, 80 percent of all processed foods – cereals, baby formula, canned soups and more – contain at least one genetically-modified o…

There is a growing attempt on the part of biotechnology companies to distance themselves from the consumer rejection of GMOs by claiming that new types of genetic engineering … are not actually genetic engineering, the group said in a statement.

The most recent federal approvals apply to Simplots second generation of Innate potatoes. The first generation that went through the federal approval process didnt include protection from late blight or enhanced cold storage.

The first generation of Innate potatoes has been sold in stores under the White Russet label. Cole said the company hasnt decided how it will market the second generation.

The company is currently at work on a third generation that Cole said will have protections against additional strains of late blight, all coming from genes within the potato species.

2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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FDA, EPA approve 3 types of genetically engineered potatoes – CBS News

An Efficient Single-Nucleotide-Editing CRISPR – Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

Since the discovery of the genome-editing tool CRISPR/Cas9, scientists have been looking to utilize the technology to make a significant impact on correcting genetic diseases. Technical challenges have made it difficult to use this method to correct disorders that are caused by single-nucleotide mutations, such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, Huntington’s disease, and phenylketonuria. However now, researchers from the Center for Genome Engineering, within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) in Korea, have just used a variation of CRISPR/Cas9 to produce mice with single-nucleotide differences. The findings from this new study were published recently in Nature Biotechnology in an article entitled Highly Efficient RNA-Guided Base Editing in Mouse Embryos.

Although genome editing with programmable nucleases such as CRISPRCas9 or Cpf1 systems holds promise for gene correction to repair genetic defects that cause genetic diseases, it is technically challenging to induce single-nucleotide substitutions in a targeted manner, the authors wrote. This is because most DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) produced by programmable nucleases are repaired by error-prone non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) rather than homologous recombination (HR) using a template donor DNA. As a result, insertion/deletions (indels) are obtained much more frequently at a nuclease target site than are single-nucleotide substitutions.

The most frequently used CRISPR/Cas9 technique works by cutting around the faulty nucleotide in both strands of the DNA and cuts out a small part of DNA. In the current study, the investigators used a variation of the Cas9 protein (nickase Cas9, or nCas9) fused with an enzyme called cytidine deaminase, which can substitute one nucleotide into anothergenerating single-nucleotide substitutions without DNA deletions.

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An Efficient Single-Nucleotide-Editing CRISPR – Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

Genetically Engineered Super Pigs Could Make Your Bacon Better – Gizmodo

These piglets could be protected from an infection that costs the swine industry billions each year. Image: Laura Dow, The Roslin Institute

For pig farmers, Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome is a disaster. Once dubbed the mystery swine disease, it emerged in the late 1980’s on farms in Europe and the US and spread rapidly, causing piglets to die and adult pigs to be afflicted with fever, lethargy, and respiratory distress. It is a major problem facing pig farmers, costing the industry billions each year.

Now the same research organization that brought us Dolly the sheep thinks it may have a solution: Scientists at University of Edinburghs Roslin Institute have genetically engineered pigs to be resistant to the virus that causes the disease.

In a new paper published in PLOS Pathogens, the scientists reported that they used the genetic engineering technique CRISPR-Cas9 to delete a small slice of one particular gene that previous studies have shown plays a key role in enabling the PRRS virus to establish an infection. The edits were made early in the embryonic stage, removing the bit of gene in a laboratory while the piglets were still merely zygotes then implanting the embryos into mother pigs. Litters of healthy piglets with that genetic tweak have since been born, and some have even gone on to have their own litters with the inherited edit.

Early tests found that cells from the pigs were entirely resistant to infection from both major strains of the virus. The next step will be to test whether the pigs themselves are resistant to infection when actually exposed to the virus.

The study builds on earlier research that has showed pigs that entirely lack a protein called CD163 do not become ill when exposed to the PRRS virus. CD163 exists on the surface of immune cells called macrophages, and its presence seems to help PRRS take hold in a pigs body and spread. So the Roslin Institute researchers simply deleted a portion of the CD163 gene. So far, it has not shown any signs of adversely affecting the pigs.

In both the US and Europe, regulations and attitudes toward GMOs could make it hard to make such pigs commercially available. But if it works, the super pigs are sure to be in demand among both pig farmers and lovers of bacon.

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Genetically Engineered Super Pigs Could Make Your Bacon Better – Gizmodo

Explore More: Genetic Engineering – iptv.org

Watch the full show online! Visit the Explore More Genetic Engineering video page…

Would you want to clone your pet? Would you change your child’s eye color? Do you care if your strawberry contains a gene for fish?

Explore More: Genetic Engineering tells you the story, gives you the facts, and then takes a closer look to help you unravel the core issues. Take a look at and interact with the content. Discuss what you learn with other people, form your own opinion on the subjects, but always keep an open mind.

As you go through this site, think about how genetic engineering is changing the way we live. This is a fascinating area that deserves our attention. Decisions and choices we make in our lifetime will affect how and why genetic engineering is used.

Investigate Explore More Teacher Resources WebQuests, Web links, lesson plans, teaching strategies, discussion questions, standards, and project goals help you leverage Explore More content to help student achievement and motivation. Get your students thinking with this useful collection of tools and tips! Find out more.

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Genetic engineering could become terrorist weapon Bill Gates – InterAksyon

Reuters file photo

MUNICH Microsoft founder Bill Gates said at the Munich Security Conference that genetic engineering could be a terrorist weapon and may kill tens of millions of people.

The next epidemic could originate on the computer screen of a terrorist intent on using genetic engineering to create a synthetic version of the smallpox virus or a super contagious and deadly strain of the flu, Gates made the remarks on Saturday.

Having spent billions of U.S. dollars in a philanthropic drive to improve health worldwide, Gates said that bio-terrorism could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year.

Furthermore, he predicted that there is a possibility our globe will experience such an outbreak in the next 10 to 15 years.

Some intelligence agencies have noticed that the Islamic State has been trying to develop biological weapons at its bases in Syria and Iraq, according to the Guardian.

Although the threat seems tiny due to technological support and manpower, the pressure from bio-terrorism has become more and more realistic in the past years.

Getting ready for a global pandemic is every bit as important as nuclear deterrence and avoiding a climate catastrophe. Innovation, cooperation and careful planning can dramatically mitigate the risks presented by each of these threats, said Gates.

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Genetic engineering could become terrorist weapon Bill Gates – InterAksyon