Harvard's George Church wants to not only make people immune to all viruses and battle aging, but also possibly eliminate many inherited diseases, CBS News' 60 Minutes reports.
For instance, Church tells 60 Minutes' Scott Pelley that there are only a few sequences that viruses recognize to invade cells and their hosts, and that if those sequences are altered, then those cells and hosts can become resistant to viruses. Meanwhile in mice and dogs, Church is investigating whether the addition of certain genes to boost, for instance, heart and kidney function can counteract the effects of aging. He tells Pelley, though, that while trials are ongoing in dogs, it would take at least another 10 or so years for human clinical trials.
Church, 60 Minutes notes, is also involved in dozens of startups, including a dating app. That app, it says, examines people's DNA to weed out prospective couples whose children would have an inherited disease, and in this way, Church tells it that a number of inherited diseases could be eliminated.
Pelley notes that some of his projects might give some people pause, and Church agrees, saying that there is a need for caution. "The more powerful, or the more rapidly moving the technology, the more cautious we need to be, the bigger the conversation involving lots of different disciplines, religion, ethics, government, art, and so forth. And to see what it's unintended consequences might be," he tells 60 Minutes.
Church has also been under fire recently for having accepted money from the now-deceased convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. When Pelley asked if he regretted taking the money, Church says that he "regrets not knowing more about the donor" and says that "so-called tainted money can be used for good... like, the tobacco money was used for good things."