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Are We The Borg?: CRISPR-Cas9 Assimilates Nanotechnology

Are We The Borg?: CRISPR-Cas9 Assimilates Nanotechnology

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In Startrek, The Borg are a race of cybernetic creatures. They are the arch-nemesis in Startrek and the bane of all other races in the galaxy. They are extremely, almost instantaneously, adaptive to virtually any threat, condition or weapon.  They are virulent and aggressive.  They seek to assimilate virtually everything in their path.  The Borg function as a collective and share a hive mind.  They are virus-like in their insatiable desire to assimilate all technology as they seek to spread across space and even time.  The irony is that Humanity itself is The Borg’s most sought after species.  It is also the most elusive as numerous epic attempts to assimilate all humanity have met with failure even catastrophe for The Borg.  Yet, they persist. 

"WE ARE THE BORG! RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!"

Great debate continues within Startrek fan forums regarding the origin of The Borg.  The fusion of nanotechnology and CRISPR-Cas9 “gene editing” may provide a hint as to how this race of cybernetic creatures came to be.

"ARE WE THE BORG?"

Computing technologies continue to get smarter.  They are also getting smaller literally by the day. Scientists are now using nanotechnology in combination with CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing in ways never imagined just five years ago. In a recent study,

“...MIT researchers have developed nanoparticles that can deliver the CRISPR genome-editing system and specifically modify genes in mice. “ 

Human experimentation is sure to follow.

 

Nanoparticles are used to deliver CRIPSR-Cas9 complex into cells.

 

The CRISPR-Cas9

“gene editing”

system was invented by modeling the active immunity bacteria use to 1) Identify the DNA of invading viruses, 2) Bind to the alien DNA, 3) Cut the double strands of the invading virus (thus rendering it inert), 4) store a copy of the virus DNA a special RNA molecule, 5) pass that genetic information to its progeny so they have resistance.

In the laboratory, researchers routinely use viruses to introduce the CRISPR-Cas9

“complex”

into the cell of a research target e.g. bacteria, mouse, dog, cow, monkey or human.  The use of nanotechnology allows researchers to use tiny synthetic

“nanoparticles”

instead of viruses to deliver the CRISPR-Cas9 complex.  In their study, scientists at MIT

“...used nanoparticles to carry the CRISPR components, eliminating the need to use viruses for delivery.”

The utilization of nanotechnology to enhance CRISPR-Cas9 outcomes show great promise. For example, an two FDA-approved drugs to treat high cholesterol

“...need to be taken regularly, and for the rest of the patient's life, to provide therapy.” 

MIT researchers revealed that,

“...nanoparticles permanently edit the gene following a single treatment, and the technique also offers promise for treating other liver disorders, ..”

With any new and emerging technology, never more than with CRISPR-Cas9, there is also potential for great peril.  

 

Nano scale diagram.

 

Researchers can cut a double strand of DNA in EXACTLY the desired location.  That is one of the most powerful, and potentially dangerous, features of CRISPR-Cas9.   At the point of the cut, researchers typically insert a premade genetic sequence.  But what if?  What if researchers repair the “knockout” sequence of DNA with a nanoparticle or even a piece of nanocircuitry instead of an organic molecular sequence?  The result would be the first human-digital-chimera: a cyborg.  Imagine that the nanocircuitry is encoded, i.e. programmed, with TRILLIONS of biochemical instructions.  The nanocircuitry functions like a gene-sized super computer.   The creation of human-digital cyborgs is no longer the stuff of science fiction or fantasy.  It is here.  It is now.  The only question is which team of researchers gets there first.

SOURCES:

https://phys.org/news/2017-11-crispr-carrying-nanoparticles-genome.html

https://www.statnews.com/2016/02/10/cancer-nanoparticles/

https://www.statnews.com/2016/02/10/cancer-nanoparticles/