tv Sophie Co. Visionaries RT November 22, 2019 3:30pm-4:00pm EST
welcome to sophie and conan sophie shevardnadze genetics and biology are promising to bring about revolutionary changes in the way humans lead and as we learn today how to change our d.n.a. i mean the possible implications are just mind blowing from getting rid of diseases to programming on born babies today i sat down with a revolutionary scientist and molecular engineer dr george church to talk about that. professor george church thank you very much for being on our program today so genome sequencing and gene editing is something like the internet in the eighty's on the brink to explode those are your words so do you mean to say that soon genome editing will be just like surfing the news on a sunday morning with a cup of coffee. it's possible i mean it's hard to rule out that scenario just like
they're really. drugs. without prescription that might be one of them right well that's not the case but there are many. pharmaceuticals that we were without thinking about them much so when you say that you know managing is on the brink of explosion what exactly do you mean. well this is it is both reading and writing of genomes which are intimately connected are on an exponential brink of explosion or literally explode if you follow the cost curves all there they're doubling your. ears. are not. computing is. and that change in cost structure and the impact that house on things that we care about the hope of our children our souls. probably means that will
it's not something to ignore well i mean i heard that you could actually conduct genome engineering at home you don't even have to be a scientist to do that right you can just order a desired d.n.a. sample over the internet it's like $10.00 get it delivered i don't inject it if that's the case why don't people lot of themselves time to time. of. well you can also order all sorts of chemicals at home too but most people don't have the the know how or the unmet need ok but people do inject themselves with gene therapy is there are a few known cases and probably on the tour level you on an amateur level people inject themselves as with maybe some little assistance. outside of the standard biomedical research practice do we know what that has resulted in to do it i think not much has come of it because. you know for something for most impactful
medicines to take root they have to go through clinical trials i do the deal a double blind placebo controlled randomized clinical trials and that is just starting and the amateurs are not in this are likely to influence that would you be open to experiment on yourself i mean would you and jack gene fix and share a self and take a risk for the sake of science. yes i mean i am i have been a guinea pig in the research. studies since ever since my mother father essentially did mature research on me. which was probably within the law. but i would want to participate in a study that is a randomized clinical trial something that that has some chance of producing
reproducible and useful information not so something where it's a one off on controlled study that we're just doing it to myself so do i understand correctly that you're already been subject to experiments with and i've been a research subject. experiments opposed to a lot of comic spearman's like were it it change or what happened was a little more formal ones started in college and involved is in psychological works berman's was involved in nutrition experiments and. one of the main research subjects in the personal genome projects of so very beginning with the study that i started so have your eyes become blue or that or they've behaved ever since you're born i i have not done i am not aware of the extent of the effect by color of the putting on contact lenses. but i probably would not participate in that kind of study because i don't see the has been
a serious gene medical therapy is now very expensive right. the price tag for the recently approved medication that can actually somehow cure inherited blindness is about like what $1000000.00 and that's something that 99 percent of population can't really afford right. does it make sense to produce something that people would never able to buy. also yes a $1000000.00 is the cost for over not just for gene therapy but for but for a variety of orphan drugs into the orphan drug the united states of things that affect rare diseases and i would certainly i've spent most of my career bringing down the costs of technologies both reading and writing genomes and and now therapeutics. and that certainly our ambition my ambition to bring down those costs . you don't want to deprive people of lifesaving treatment if they are part of
society can't afford it but i totally agree that the goal should be to make treatments nearly free. and i and by the way gene therapy is not the only way of treating some of these diseases many of these diseases can be prevented by genetic counseling which is not a $1000000.00 but it's closer to 2 $1000.00 but let's talk about the genetic editing a little bit because see how it's right now it's expensive i mean i don't know maybe in 10203050 years time it's going to be affordable for everyone but right now it is very expensive terribly can cause this sort of a surge in d.n.a. and create a genetic racism do i mean. already right now there's such a huge gap between rich and poor right so if the rich people are the only ones who can afford those kind of things i mean they will be healthier never die and then you have you know the rest of the world there are just going to be. deteriorating
to see my point i just think i worry about the same thing do you think so you think there can create that d.n.a. is you know i worry that i don't think that i'm not predicting that it will happen i worry about it to prevent it and the way i think we prevent it is well 1st of all it's not racial it's rich versus poor and it's in the cast of people i. rich people versus poor people and they're always happy and healthy and you know the cast of the poor hurt his unhealthy and dying like they were right so my point is that the solution is is not to say that it's inevitable that there will be this divide it's to say what can we do to bring down the cost and. get education equitable distribution and we've done that for some technologies for example smallpox affects everybody in the world all some point 5000000000 people there is no one that is exempt from that benefit we should have them and vision to do that for every subsequent medical technology and i think we can do it. probably quickly not not 50
years from now but much faster than a so when you say i'm the one working on those things and i'm worried and i want to prevent all this what exactly do you do to prevent that from happening what i do to prevent it to accelerate the arrival of equitable distribution of new technologies is to bring the cost down so we work to bring the cost of reading genomes down by 3000000 fold the cost of editing is plummeting at the same rate i believe that for most genetic diseases they can mean a dress by gene therapy which is more a reading and education problem that editing problem you can many and most of these can be addressed just by knowing your genome. and then another huge topic is age where so and believes it's well a matter of maybe 10 years time that this is going to be really tangible in terms of results what exactly do you mean i mean. are we going to get rid of wrinkles
than you know. our bodies are going to be more toned all of a sudden when we're 60 we're going to look like we're 20 already talking about internal organs like a heart is going to get better when we're 20 or you know i don't plug wessels i don't know i don't consider wrinkles a public health threat so i'm like this because you know what when. i mean i realize the society that society has biases that can result in difference different economies for the aged and therefore and having no. income could result in poor medical care so it is a health threat. that said i think what we're aiming for an aging worse one is not necessarily a decade away that we've already had evidence for aging reversal in several different. ways in. in mice and so them we are turning those in the gene therapies multiple gene therapy is in testing it in
prearranged mice and then praise dogs and then eventually human. and the goal is to to to make us more resilient to damage to our various organ systems. and to deal with the diseases of aging by hitting at the core that makes us. less functional as we get into our eighty's and there was age reversal right now has nothing to do with the way we look at something about making our system and our organism more stable healthier and you know. resistant to diseases it could affect the way we look at those not the objective the objective is to do hit on major organ systems to really affect your health like your immune system your heart. prevention of cancer and so forth but you know it's not it's going to
be a big topic whether it's going to be only about health or the way it will look you know should do you know to doing be limited to just curing illnesses because i mean i'm thinking messing with a in a worse risk for me having a bigger muscle or a blue eyes is there a line that we shouldn't cross. when it comes to. getting i'm not i think we tend to draw lines in the wrong places doesn't mean there isn't a law and order maybe it's blurry was like for example driving a car there is no there's no real physics at $55.00 mph that is the law that we pass so that arbitrary place along a continuum it is unsafe to go 100 miles an hour. and it's but we set the line at 55 and i think the same thing's true for you know if you really want blue eyes and wear blue contact lenses. that we're not going to.
use if you want a different color hair dye your hair most of the things we want to change ourselves for fashion statement or. if we want to be faster then you get a fast car or a jet or you know we don't need to have faster muscles those on the average individual it's adequate that we can get from one place to another faster than i ever imagined. so when we're. sequencing engine. what explains the bipartisan commitment to an ending wars in foreign military
interventions recent polls show the majority of veterans who fought in this century's foreign wars say it wasn't worth it in 2016 game traction for doubting foreign adventures today is doing the same why are the elites so much. happened on the pull of. sway or both the food. bank itself moving to. plus we've got to go through hard not to think of the mother disappeared this moment the walk up to take hours and i don't know start then if. this is the only thing that we do is music because everybody fights his weight. the floor lucan the feet down this will persuade you that you have
a whole new level of the truth about. what i think is this is the fund that is all come from. and we're back with professor george church talking about gene that professor so do i understand correctly that for you personally that line that shouldn't be crossed is between genome sequencing being used for greater purposes like health purposes but definitely not something that would change the way you look physically from the outside is that fair understand i mean the winds should be drawn out of
safety and i think you see both short and long term we want to make sure that what we're doing doesn't of impact future generations in a negative way it can in fact it can affect future generations but just not in their way and sometimes as that takes a great deal of discussion and research to figure out what that means but i would not draw a line. on mentation or appearance because those do affect your your income and hence your health. in there and they can be harmless and they're already done and so you that if you want to ban those things you should be on all means of achieving them well you should you should prevent society for been through being discriminating based on beauty rather than a particular way of doing it so we should ban beauty products of all sorts not just once or well ok so you're not very categorical about this but then the other scientists and medical community experts that i've spoken to they're pretty much
against. you know that the genome sequencing being used in terms of enhancing physical affair is and then you know i always ask them why is it ok to get a job you know but it's not ok to do that was the question janet it being what it is your insults your answer or. the different answers but what what what what would you say to. you know i would i would say that the. there are there are reasons to ban the entire practice across the cross you know an industry or the earth because it does consume resources while i'm spending a lot of money. dealing with things that don't affect my health and don't affect my performance so there won't be discriminated against in a in a society that is based on appearance i could be spend his resources or something else but those resources include all manner of cosmetic surgery of. skin and hair care products and so forth if you don't like the loss of resources than
then you should apply it across the board i'm not saying that we should it's not necessarily a harmful thing. maybe we can afford those those those resources just like we have afforded resources that are spent on entertainment and and so forth it is it is there is reasons that we want to look our best. because plastic surgery start with medical purposes like it was like for injured soldiers or burns or kids that will be born with birth defects etc and now. it's a nasty headache industry that feeds off people's insecurities you know so that could happen with the genome sequencing we said all right we don't want. industries profiting from people's insecurities and we should ban every kind of i'm not saying we should ban them i'm saying that if we don't like that waste the resources in
that abuse of insecurities then we should ban them not say what my opinion of them to say if the right. so all is that we're talking about the gene aiding and the fact that he can have fun human health. is this something permanent i mean if you you know the gene at it somewhat of an instance as this does mean that my child is no longer have inherited disease that i'm just at it or is it just a pliable to myself how does it work can you most a lot if i your child while it's a new a womb still. most. essential all gene therapy is there in clinical trials right now are on adults or children that are not in and that's not inherited. you could make inherited changes. that's technically possible it's not yet advanced enough that is for approval.
you'd have to have a good reason to do it. i don't believe it's because many things can be can either can be cruel so there are some things that cannot be corrected easily in an adult or a child and she'd need to do it earlier the earliest in the most preventive would be either by doing that by genetic counseling to avoiding 25 percent of children who are born with serious. genetic diseases can be avoided by that so they can also just or a few. people get married and want to have their own children than they ignored the genetic counseling up to the point that in principle you could do something on their sperm or egg that would prevent them from passing along that disease but the most cost effective and then probably psychologically least traumatic is to do it at the matchmaking stage. because i'm thinking of this sometimes people with mental diseases don't know that i have mental this isn't it comes out with aids for instance schizophrenia i mean if you could technically when you say technically
prevent that from being inherited into your kids as a something that's really far away and i would i don't think it's. beneficial to dismiss it as being close i mean it might be close in time it's not a so far away. because if we're going to deal with it we need to. not underestimate how quick how quickly it derived. i think if we had a way of avoiding. extreme case of schizophrenia by genetic counseling would be very advantageous if we could do it with. any kind of preventative medicine that would be better than probably better than a cure or more equal to a cure i want to talk a bit about your new start of. that's very good data information in block change technology right i mean what's the point i mean you hope to encourage people to get
their genome sequenced d.n.a. code written out and then share it with the rest of the world. well the whole point is they can avoid sharing their whole genome with anyone including their physicians matchmakers researchers what they can do is give them. part of what they need encrypted form and color and combined with many other people's. comparable data such that no one ever has. and that that the viable piece of anybody else's genome so that that level of security is just now becoming evident how you achieve that and i think it would reassure a number of people. about ways that they can share the things that they would like to share they can now do it securely in addition there's a way of compensating room for. participating in some very safe society
a lot of money so for example with 5 percent of children nurse 4 born severely genetically damaged and you can get everybody get their own genome sequenced and secure a software that allows them to find out who they can who would be a good match for them and who would not be before they get married or you could reduce abortions you can reduce the $1000000.00 costs of dealing with these 5 percent of the image babies and that should be you should be able return it to the people. who got their genome sequence so rather than paying $1000.00 for the genome sequence we should pay you $1000.00 to get your genome sequenced so the society avoids having these severely affected children do you ever come across or get in trouble with people who maybe think that you are sort of overstepping humanity's boundaries because you're working with something so big
something bigger than us you know like some whatever and say that you're playing with god you know to do you come across that i think that. it is a risk but i don't i think in my particular case there's. people see that i'm trying to engage in an ethical discussion the discussion of the ethics safety for a long term planning trying to have 2 way conversations with broad set of people like this conversation and i think they respect that and they don't and that they they don't think that i'm playing working hard and i'm working as an engineer would do a safety engineer more than thing else so i think that. i'm not trying to reassure anyone i'm to actually trying to raise the alarms as quickly as i see them and i see them sooner because i'm that deep in the trenches we're working on the on the
next technologies do you feel like maybe society should have certain constraints when it comes to cutting edge scientists like you or you know people like you. just because you know you could be for better or for worse changing the way humana works the way humanity is this is not a joke. well yes i i have concern about new technologies and i think society should and i and i try to help them get engaged in those concerns but we also should have concerns about doing nothing doing nothing is extraordinarily risky in a world with with some point 5000000000 people and a whole series of ancient technologies that are not necessarily suitable for. the moral. you know there are some people who believe that we are the way we are and there's
a reason for it and however many lives we get one or 25000 we should go through each life there way we were born what do you think i mean i've read in one of your interests you have a special condition called narcolepsy would you want to change that in yourself or would you want to keep it the way you are. well i don't think we need to stay the way we are born i mean we in addition to that i will naturally progress. and i think we are there's anything that i mean it depends on your definition of nature and natural i mean some people define nature as that which is not affected by humans well obviously humans are affected by humans we put on clothing we we drive cars we are not except in our nature or in our we're not accepting our ancient nature. that said what i changed my merc not at our current state of knowledge i think in fact i think one of the things we need to be very cautious about is we need lots of diversity we need people with now. problems that they can live with i
think that you know when i was younger i had serious dyslexia and i have a bunch of things wrong with me but they were tolerable and if we eliminate people we should eliminate cases where it's intolerable or they would. be in great pain to life but things are tolerable this is part of the richness that makes us great. and willing to accept the burden of my particular problems. and i think we might even need more diversity. church thanks for this wonderful insight for this internet with everything thank you.
good food descriptions sound up a tasing even for the owners so how to choose the pet food industry is telling us what to feed our pets really more based on what they want to sell us than was necessarily good for the pet turns out and may not be yourself the best people believe we have animals that have you know diabetes in arthritis they have auto immune disorders allergies we are actually creating these problems it's a huge epidemic of problems all of them i believe can be linked to very simple problem of diet and some dog owners so heartbreaking stories about their pets less treats the larger corporations are not very interested in proving or disproving the value of their food because they're already making a $1000000000.00 on it and there's no reason to do that research.
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