A US Department of Defense agency is currently looking at ways to alter one’s biology to provide adequate protection for personnel from chemical and biological attacks.
There will come a time where sci-fi movies write themselves. These moving pictures wouldn’t even be referred to as science-fiction, as they would more or less be based on reality. Where it isn’t yet based on reality, it has to be said that we are getting to a stage now where it is probably only a matter of time until that concept has been actualized by government-funded scientists who seek to aid the US military.
According to the Defense Department, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is currently advancing a notion known as gene editing (or genome editing) with a view of it benefiting US military personnel. Gene editing is essentially a group of technologies that allow scientists to change an organism’s DNA, by adding, removing or altering genetic material at particular locations in the genome.
As publicly announced by the director of DARPA, Steven H Walker, the agency is actively seeking to use this technology to protect soldiers from disease and chemical or biological warfare agents by modifying a soldier’s genetics to enable them to resist. DARPA has thus far invested $65 million in gene-editing research.
“Can you actually protect a soldier on the battlefield from chemical weapons and biological weapons by controlling their genome… having their genome produce proteins that would automatically protect the soldier from the inside out?” Walker asked.
Apparently, Walker’s goal is not to make an army of super soldiers (though the temptation to do so must be right up there). Instead, the stated goal is to make things safer for soldiers. This is because, as Walker explains, you can’t “stockpile enough of the vaccine or antivirus capability to protect the population against that [chemical or biological warfare] in the future.” But if you can turn your body into an “antibody factory”, hey, why not?