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Can already living humans be generically altered/modified in any way?(talking about a fully grown person, not a baby) How far are we from doing that? What have we achieved so far?

Submitted by: Ded Justded


Expert response from Community Manager

Moderator for

Thursday, 12/27/2018 20:09

In addition to the response by Robert Murray, Professor, Human Nutrition, The Ohio State University, we have answered similar questions on genetic modification in humans in the past. 


Dr. Larry Gilbertson, Ph.D, Genomics Strategy Lead, Monsanto, answered a similar question; an excerpt is included below.


Even if germline genetic modification becomes a reality in humans, it is one thing to use it to repair a mutation that causes a disease, but it is quite another to use it to “enhance” human traits.


The latter captures people’s imagination, but to do so would require a level of knowledge about complex genetic traits that just doesn’t exist today, so even if the laboratory techniques exist, the data science required to do so doesn’t.


Chris Barbey, Ph.D Student, Plant Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, also answers a similar question; an excerpt from that answer is included below.


Ethical considerations aside, gene editing has a large technical hurdle in terms of “delivery.” A human body is made of tens of trillions of cells, and each cell contains the complete genome (some notable exceptions). Currently there’s no method on the horizon for editing all the cells of a large multicellular organism such as ourselves. So even though we know a lot of negative genetics causing human disease, unfortunately we can’t easily correct them in a living person. The technical hurdles preventing the curing of disease are the same hurdles preventing your transformation into Aquaman.


We hope this answers your question, if you have any other questions about GMOs or biotechnology, please ask!


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