#9: Not Because It's Easy, but Because It's Hard

It's easy to forget amid the rising seas and fucking sweltering early June temps that we're making completely insane progress on the bio-tech front. While nothing's set in stone, hard-working scientists, aided by AI, machine learning and sometimes pure dumb luck, are on the cusp of biological breakthroughs that may forever change the way we treat disease. We should be so lucky to live in an era where cancer treatments may include combined doses of precision immunotherapy. 

Paul S. Knoepfler, a cell biologist at the University of California, Davis, says, of CRISPR: “This field seems to move in dog years,” he said. “It feels like seven times faster than real time.”

Of course, not everyone agrees. Nothing is ever guaranteed (except rising oceans amiright?). But that's what makes it all so exciting.

On to the news!


1. We won't cure cancer - NYTimes

"The growing cancer epidemic is not a problem that medical science is about to solve. In fact, it is a problem we are about to make worse. The better we get at keeping people alive, the older they will get, and the more cancer there will be in the population. How we deal with this paradox will shape the future of society, and our leaders need to understand why." 


2. "We respectfully disagree, asshole", says many big shots who've dedicated their careers to taking on cancer - NYTimes

"This fatalistically negative statement is in contrast to the fact that we docure cancer and that the numbers are increasing, albeit at a slower rate than we would like."


3. Scientists find ordinary mouth bacterium that makes a form of Crispr that breaks apart not DNA, but RNA — the molecular messenger used by cells to turn genes into proteins. - NYTimes

"Many viruses do not contain DNA. Instead, their genetic information is encoded in RNA, DNA’s single-stranded cousin, which they use to hijack the genes of their hosts and cause them to make new viruses. Some of these RNA viruses, such as H.I.V. and poliovirus, attack our species."


4. And more: Harvard researchers develop a method for permanently recording molecular events in living cells - The Scientist

"...if a CRISPR/Cas system were to be combined with a reverse transcriptase—an enzyme that converts RNA to DNA—in cells or animals, it could be used to provide a record of which messenger RNAs are expressed, when. Another possibility, suggested Arkin, is to use CRISPR/Cas-engineered bacteria to provide information about the other microorganisms present in an environment—be that the soil, the human gut, or wherever."


4. But how far is too far? 'Scientists propose to build synthetic human genome" - Reuters

"A synthetic human genome potentially could make it possible to create humans who lack biological parents - raising the specter, for instance, of made-to-order human beings with special genetic enhancements.
The scientists said that was not their aim."


5. #FridayFun: Video Game AI Created Super Weapons and Started Hunting Players - Kotaku

"Players would be pulled into fights against ships armed with ridiculous weapons that would cut them to pieces. "It appears that the unusual weapons attacks were caused by some form of networking issue which allowed the NPC AI to merge weapon stats and abilities," according to a post written by Frontier community manager Zac Antonaci. "Meaning that all new and never before seen (sometimes devastating) weapons were created, such as a rail gun with the fire rate of a pulse laser. These appear to have been compounded by the additional stats and abilities of the engineers weaponry."