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Variation Lost

Writer Jim Kozubek argues that gene editing to eliminate disease and mental illness could also rid the world of some creativity, the Telegraph reports.

Kozubek says that without conditions like Asperger's, autism, depression, autism, or schizophrenia there would not have been people like Thomas Edison or Tennessee Williams, as he further notes that writers and poets are more likely to have bipolar disorder. "Thomas Edison was 'addled' and kicked out of school," Kozubek tells the Telegraph. "Tennessee Williams, as a teenager on the boulevards of Paris felt afraid of 'the process of thought' and came within 'a hairsbreadth of going quite mad.'" He suggests that the negative effects of genetic variants that increase creativity could be mitigated by their positive effects.

"Before we begin modifying our genes with gene editing tools such as CRISPR/Cas9, we'd be smart to recall that genetic variants that contribute to psychiatric conditions may even be beneficial depending on the environment or genetic background," he says.

The Telegraph notes that large-scale trials in the US and China are to begin next year to examine the use of CRISPR/Cas9-based approaches to treat cancer.