That's the question driving a research project led Charis Himeda from the University of Massachusetts Medical School which aims to pave the way for genetic modification at a cellular level.
The paper, which was recently published in the high profile science journal Nature, believes diseases can be targeted and effectively cured by a new process known as Clusters of Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (or CRISPR). For instance, the team behind the paper believe diseases such as facial muscular dystrophy can be nulified by replacing the offending gene with a benign one.
Of course, the ideas behind the paper remain firmly theoretical, and there's no gauruntee the process will cure every illness its used on (it was only 50% successful) but Himeda believes it's a bona fide step in the right direction for developing cures for the world's most prevelant diseases. “I think progress for any disease is really progress for all diseases, because a lot of these therapies and technologies are going to turn out to be broadly applicable,” she comments.
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