Poner riendas a la revolución genética

LOVAINA – Tal vez no estemos plenamente conscientes de ello, pero es probable que las generaciones futuras consideren que nuestra época es verdaderamente histórica. Nunca antes la humanidad había podido comprender el funcionamiento de las células, los tejidos y los órganos, los mecanismos moleculares precisos de la evolución, y el momento y la manera en que nuestra especie se originó y propagó por el mundo.

La tecnología que nos permite revelar los procesos y mecanismos celulares y subcelulares, identificar las causas de las enfermedades y desarrollar tratamientos más específicos y eficaces, así como determinar quién y en qué medida está vinculado biológicamente a nosotros combina conocimientos de distintos campos: la biología, las ciencias de la informática, las tecnologías de la información y las ciencias materiales. Como cabría esperar, una revolución así en el conocimiento también debe implicar un efecto importante sobre la sociedad, exigiendo respuestas a preguntas que hasta hace poco se consideraban como pura ciencia ficción.

Hoy es técnicamente factible secuenciar en apenas unos días los 2,4 metros de ADN presente en el núcleo de cada célula de nuestros cuerpos. Y, al tiempo que sigue aumentando la velocidad de los métodos fiables de secuenciación, su precio ha bajado notablemente: pronto hacerlo no costará más que unos cientos de dólares. Una vez que se conozca la función de cada fragmento del ADN, ya no habrá obstáculo alguno para la secuenciación de rutina.

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