How to create a superhuman

These 10 genetic mutations give humans superpowers — and gene editing technology might be able to replicate them. Ellie McInerney reports.

Achieving a Wolverine physique or Spider-man aeronautical skills involves a whole lot of protein shakes and an unnerving comfort with heights — but that could all change. With technology like CRISPR, DNA manipulation is on the verge of creating actual superhumans. Here are the top 10 exciting gene exploits.

Poison proof

An arsenic-laced water supply in Argentina led to the development of a gene called AS3MT. This allows people to consume up to 80 times the lethal dose of arsenic.

Speed demon

If Usain Bolt is your superhero, this protein is for you. The gene ACTN3 produces the protein alpha-actinin-3, responsible for producing seriously speedy fast-twitch muscle fibres.

Super Strength

If you can’t seem to stack on size like the next guy, there’s a chance he has a mutation in the gene MSTN. MSTN’s role is to tell the body when it’s built enough muscle, but bodies with a mutation don’t get the message.

Hyper sight

A mutation in the opsin gene will make you one of only a few who can see almost 100 million colours, compared to the measly 1 million seen by the average person. We might be able to create custom-made kaleidoscope eyes.

Unbreakable Bones

Osteoporosis is kryptonite to healthy bones, but what if the gene that causes it could be rewired to create super strong bones? Thanks to CRISPR this is potentially on the horizon.

Immunity to Pain

Pain immunity is an actual thing (CIP) caused by a mutation in the gene SCN11A. This mutation means we can accidentally burn ourselves on a flame and not feel a thing! It also means we could be on fire and not realise it…

Skin recharge

One day you might be able to charge your phone from your fingertips. Slavisa Pajkic is known as “The Battery Man” due to a gene mutation that has made his body resistant to electricity. Shocking!

Elastic limbs

A mutation in the protein Fibrillin-1 allows people to bend and disjoint their limbs, but for people with the mutation it’s far from a superpower, as it can also cause serious health complications.

Ultra taste

Supertasters taste bitter flavours at a higher intensity to most, said to be a mutation designed to prevent us from consuming toxic plants, which are generally bitter.

Resistance to Fat

The inability to gain weight (MDP syndrome) sends fat to the bloodstream instead of the skin. With CRISPR we might be able to turn this disease in our favour.