Would You Create a Custom Creature or Pet for a Reasonable Price?
Austen Heinz, CEO of Cambrian Genomics, claims he has made it possible for anybody to modify or create new synthetic life forms with a DNA Laser printer.
His 11-person crew has raised $10 million, from more than 120 investors, including Peter Thiel’s venture firm Founder’s Fund. “It’s a fundamentally new technology that can open up a whole new industry,” said partner Scott Nolan.
Heinz’s synthetic biology company uses lasers to create custom DNA for pharmaceutical companies. Cambrian Genomics is on a mission to “democratize creation,” with minimal to no regulation.
“Anyone in the world that has a few dollars can make a creature, and that changes the game,” Heinz said. “And that creates a whole new world.”
“It is the most powerful technology humans have ever created,” Heinz said. “Hydrogen bombs can destroy whole planets, but this is a technology that can create planets. This is the greatest human achievement of all time — the ability to read and write life, because that’s who we are.”
The company hopes to create living things, that are now the stuff of fantasy and science fiction. Cambrian Genomics may become the Kinko’s of DNA printing, giving you the ability to design your own creature or pet.
Human DNA printer? You betcha! Heinz told the Wall Street Journal, “I can’t believe that after 10 or 20 years people will not design their children digitally.”
The technology could also be used customize your baby, like printing desired eye and hair colors. “People are already trying to make those decisions by deciding who they’re going to breed with,” Said Heinz.
Heinz claims that this will prevent children from being born with significant genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis, which would cause a lifetime of suffering.
In the foreseeable future, people will be able to pay more to have a child created with beneficial traits or eliminate traits they dislike. For example, if you want your child to be a successful athlete or model you may just purchase that DNA blue print from the hospital, on-line store or salesman.
Not everyone is on board with Heinz’s plan.
“Heinz talks openly about everybody being able to create entirely novel creatures,” Darnovsky told NPR. “Is that what we want? Do we want anybody, including potential terrorists, to be able to create entirely novel life forms — new creatures? Do we want the teenager next door to be creating Godzilla in the bathtub? I don’t want that.”