As gene-based mRNA vaccines from Moderna are being designed and tested at warp speeds to fight Covid-19, this is also bringing the debate over transhumanism into the forefront.

Transhumanism is a type of futurist philosophy aimed at transforming the human species by means of biotechnologies.  Transhumanists see disease, aging and death as undesirable and unnecessary, and aim to transform human beings into post-human species with greater capacities than those of present human beings.

The philosophy is based on secular humanism and sees human nature as an evolutionary work-in-progress with room for improvement and enhancement.  However, it is more radical in that it promotes not only traditional means of improving human nature such as education and cultural refinement, but also direct application of medicine and technology to overcome basic biological limits.

Transhumanists give special attention to genetic engineering, robotics, molecular nanotechnology and artificial intelligence, and the Covid-19 pandemic is providing gene-based vaccines a chance to break through into the global health market.

Moderna and gene-editing

Currently there are various companies such as Inovio, Moderna and CanSino Biologics that are testing mRNA and DNA vaccines to counter SARS coronavirus-2 (SARS CoV-2) which causes Covid-19, but Moderna is the front runner that recently nabbed $472 million from U.S. government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to develop the vaccine.  This is in addition to the $483 million it had already received back in April, bringing its total funding to $955 million.

With U.S. government funding at nearly $1 billion for one company, Moderna may be too big to fail. However, this is perplexing for a company that has never produced a single vaccine. According to a CNN report, Moderna was only established in 2010, has never brought a product to market, nor gotten any of its nine or so vaccine candidates approved for use by the FDA.

However, it has been a long-term Pentagon contractor for biodefense, working closely with Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) on gene-editing and mRNA therapeutics.  DARPA is focused on developing emerging disruptive technologies to maintain a competitive edge over adversaries, including many ‘transhuman’ projects such as genetic engineering and soldier enhancement via robotics.

In the case of Moderna and mRNA therapeutics, DNA vaccines is considered a new paradigm that would disrupt the pharmaceutical industry.  Its vision is to harness a new technology that synthesizes messenger RNA, or mRNA—which is an instruction manual in every living cell for creating protein—to prompt the human body to make its own medicine. (Read More)

Gene-editing, Moderna, and transhumanism

Josh Toupos

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