ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Evolutionary medicine is refining the human gene pool at embryonic level to eliminate many inherited diseases while accelerating the influence of artificial intelligence to help diagnose and treat other factors that impact human health and reproduction.
The study of human biology in coming decades will reach new frontiers of discovery about the interaction between hormones, receptors and signalling molecules along with milestones in knowledge about the health effects of environmental variations, lifestyle choices, diet and exposure to pathogens.
A bold new era of genetic engineering, artificial intelligence and high-speed computer algorithms in medicine has come into sharp focus at the 2023 Congress of the Asia Pacific Initiative on Reproduction (ASPIRE) in Adelaide.
Eminent ovarian physiologist, Professor Aaron Hsueh, who has led a range of medical breakthroughs in his laboratory in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Stanford University School of Medicine, today outlined how evolutionary genomics will be a game changer in the future of humanity.
“The biggest breakthrough in biology in the 19th century was Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, and the biggest breakthrough in biology in the 20th century was the sequencing of the human genome,” Professor Hsueh explained. “At the beginning of the 21st century, we can combine evolutionary theory with genomics to further understand biology and medicine.”
Professor Hsueh said although the number of human beings was declining because of free-falling global fertility rates, the quality of the human gene pool could now be improved.
“This is being achieved through assisted reproductive technology with biopsies of early embryonic cells for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis,” he explained.
“With further improvements being made in gene therapy, precise genome editing can ensure that genetic diseases will not be passed from one generation to the next and instead be eliminated from the human gene pool.
“In this new era, sequence changes to DNA – the essence of heredity – need no longer be random as they can be altered through evolutionary medicine.
“As a result, supercharged artificial man-made selection is replacing natural selection where genetic traits of people change over long periods of time.
“Evolutionary genomics analysis provides a new paradigm to pursue future discoveries in reproduction and all biomedical endeavours.”
Professor Hsueh’s acclaimed research includes the recent discovery of human placensin, a glucogenic hormone capable of promoting placental function.
His team investigated hormonal regulation of granulosa cell functions leading to the establishment of a sensitive in vitro FSH bioassay.
“By applying the evolutionary principle, we designed a long-acting follicle stimulating protein called ELONVA, which is now in clinical use for ovarian stimulation and oocyte retrieval,” Professor Hsueh said.
His laboratory has contributed to the understanding of ovarian follicle growth and atresia, intraovarian mechanisms of oocyte maturation, and autocrine/paracrine regulation of early embryonic development.
Professor Hsueh is also the author of the book entitled The Enlightenment of Evolutionary Medicine exploring the history and evolution of the human species and diseases.
“Artificial intelligence is revolutionising medicine, including helping to select the most viable embryos for transplantation in IVF treatment, and in understanding the evolution of tumours and best cancer treatment options,” he said.
“Increasingly, we will be able to cure single gene diseases that run-in families, treat diverse cancers, extend the human lifespan and even establish a brain to computer interface.
“AI and computer-based algorithms will allow us to learn more about and influence our thoughts, ideas, beliefs and behaviours.
“How do we face the influence that evolutionary medicine and high-speed computer algorithms will have on the future of humanity?
“We cannot accurately predict the future, but we are entering a brave new world where we will need powerful new tools and techniques to face challenges presented by pandemics, global warming and environmental pollution.”
The ASPIRE Congress at the Adelaide Convention Centre has brought together many of the world’s experts in human fertility and assisted reproduction, including leaders in the field from the Asia Pacific region.
ASPIRE Congress Media Release, Friday 8 September 2023