Implications of cheap gene-editing technology

“Curing cancer” is not just “an engineering problem”. Even with infinite resources, we’re still left with trying to understand the mechanisms by which cancer arises and how it can be controlled (rather than simply killed slightly faster than healthy tissue). Just because basic principles of physics and chemistry are understood doesn’t mean we can execute any conceptual mechanism within that framework, or even predict behavior which arrises from sufficiently complex systems. Ditto for predicting the phenotypical expression of changes to the genome, which is a state of affairs which is likely to continue until we have the ability to not only predict individual protein interactions but also simulate them in a massive dynamic system on the scale of an individual cell, much less an entire differentiated organism. See systems biology.


I don’t want to derail the discussion, so I’ll just say our personal definitions of an “engineering problem” are different and it’s not beneficial to the debate to argue semantics. I do appreciate your explaining of the complexity of the issue.

Incidentally, I have a grandmother who is going through cancer treatments right now. She is on chemo and was told to halt it because it was causing some sort of infection and issue where it was too painful to swallow. She’s 83. It would be nice if they could just take a sample of the cancerous cells, sequence them, then do the same for healthy cells of the same type. Find the differences that are likely causing the cancer cells to avoid cell apoptosis, use some custom crispr or other equivalent to target the genes in the defective cancer cells and replace them will healthy working genes that allow cell death… and… cure?
Sounds simply which means it’s probably orders of magnitude more complicated, but there has to be a better way to target cancer cells and either “fix” them or destroy them. Not sure about delivery, how would one get the solution of crispr agents to the area? Is it enough to just place them near and they will seek out the right cells and dna to cut? I know literally nothing about the details and mechanics, but they really need to get on this, start using more advanced and targeted techniques because this chemo is absolutely terrible.