October 7, 2013

"While it is impossible to genetically modify humans..."

... humans will envy the results achieved in mice.

Maybe something like this can be done with diet or dietary supplements, but what if it can't and what if the results in the mice really do overcome obesity and produce an increased capacity to exercise without tiring and to be relatively muscular even if sedentary?

At what point do you think humans would reconsider the ethics of genetic modification?

20 comments:

Kevin said...

False statement in the article: ""While it is impossible to genetically modify humans..."

Why no one may have openly tried it, there is no reason why genetic modification techniques should not be applicable to humans.

Here is an example of how it could work:

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/515876/virus-that-evolved-in-the-lab-delivers-gene-therapy-into-the-retina/

EDH said...

"While it is impossible to genetically modify humans... humans will envy the results achieved in mice."

Are you so sure it hasn't been done before?

"Here I come to save the day!"

Bruce Hayden said...

It will be done, and will be done fairly quickly. Sure, the US and other first world countries are going to restrict or ban it, but there are nearing 200 countries in the world, and that means that somewhere in the world, it will be legal, and where it is legal, it will be done.

The question will be, I think, how human do you have to be to be considered human?. And, what do you do with those who have been genetically manipulated?

We are moving very quickly to the place where we can fix genetic mutations and problems, cleaning up some of the things that happen to our genes while alive. And, probably extending our lives as a result. Despite the fact that there is genetic modification going on, many, if not most, here are probably not going to be that opposed to such. I think that the place where things get tough though is when human DNA is essentially either selected, or, ultimately created, before or at conception. Where superbeings can be constructed. We are already seeing genetic screening for negative inherited traits (presumably, so far, by selecting the chromosome from the parent without it). Small step to just picking one from here, and one from there, until you have 23 pairs. We could probably do that now, but likely don't due to the expense, and the reality that we don't truly know exactly what is where, when it comes to the genes on our chromosomes. But, that is coming quickly, and then?

I do expect to see this sort of genetic manipulation being done on (other) animals first (long been done with plants). And, probably is being done.

WE shall see. Should be interesting.

tim in vermont said...

I would think the need to cull the failures is less problematic in mice than in men.

BarrySanders20 said...

At what point would any human reconsider? About three seconds ago.

Current ethics of genetic modification are no match for a quick fix that actually works to give people what they want. Look at how much people spend and obsess over looking and feeling better. Thousands voluntarily submit to surgery to place a band around their stomachs to physically force themselves to stop eating. You think these people wouldn't try something less invasive to achieve better results?

If they asked for human volunteers, they'd have to turn them away by the tens of thousands.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Rather be smarter than more athletic.

As Dickens said in "A Christmas Carol", via ghost of Xmas present: 'The boy is Ignorance, and the girl is Want. Fear the girl, but fear the boy more.'

True then. True now.

tangurena said...

At what point do you think humans would reconsider the ethics of genetic modification?

It would be long after the Nazis were forgotten. We may have invented eugenics in the US, but the Nazis dialed it up to 11, making the idea repugnant. They did some research on the boundaries of human life that still haven't been replicated (such as how long can people survive in freezing water before they die - by killing the subjects) because they're offensively unethical and essentially war crimes.

Medical ethics is far more advanced in other English speaking countries than the US. Australia, for example, leads in reproductive ethics, because we're obsessed with abortion and stem cell stuff. Our own political blinders prevent us from doing research in reproductive technologies and a recent article in Forbes shows that scientists in a variety of areas are leaving the US due to the political climate:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/janetraedupree/2013/09/25/us-scientists-are-leaving-the-country-and-taking-the-innovation-economy-with-them/

My prediction is that there will be some research into genetic mods, and those will be available to the wealthy. Folks who will have to travel to some other country to partake in their designer babies.

Andy Freeman said...

> We may have invented eugenics in the US

The progressives' eugenics programs were aimed at culling "lesser humans".

Progressives today argue that it's wrong to help "lesser humans" in the wrong way, but that's a harder argument to win.

For example, they push abortion as a solution to birth defects, but why would we prefer that to fixing said birth defects?

That said, Obamacare is a big victory for progressives. They'll be able to shut down things like lap bands. (Yes, lap bands fail some times, but they succeed some times too, and since other measures failed before then.)

It's going to be an "interesting" situation. Obamacare will take money from people and then deny them the care that they could have paid for with said money.

And, they'll say that anyone who opposes Obamacare yet uses any of its benefits is somehow wrong. If you take my money, there's nothing wrong with me taking the benefits even if I do oppose the program. Don't take my money and then you can complain if I take the benefits.

Carnifex said...

This genie barn has been empty for decades. Read any SF book dealing with utopian/dystopian societies.

Anyway, yes it will be available. But not on Obamacare. So the rich will get richer.

gregq said...

What a poorly written article.

The enzyme is produced to metabolize saturated fats. "The enzyme, SCD1, converts saturated fat into monounsaturated fat." But the "beneficial" fat is a polyunsaturated fat. Where did it come from?

So, do you benefit by eating more of the polyunsaturated fat? Or do you benefit more by eating more saturated fat, which leads to your body producing more SCD1?

Replicating this result in humans would not require gene engineering humans. Create a plasmid (DNA delivery tool) that has the SCD1 gene on in, set to always be produced when in muscle cells. Then you just have to get the plasmids into muscle cells. No modification of the chromosomes needed.

Inga said...

This report is very timely to me. I've been on a lowcarb diet for over two years, lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off, BUT my LDL-P has gone through the roof, up in the 99th percentile and that is very very bad (even though HDL and Triglycerides are excellent) so I'm back on statins, low dose hydrophilic....for now. I've been reading about this phenomenon on several different low carb sites, people are posting their Lipid profiles and many report that their LDL-Ps are sky high, same as mine.

It appears all that great saturated fat in bacon, fatty meats, butter and other dairy fat, does cause this extreme elevation of LDL-P in many long term low carbers. It's being seen now because there are so many people who have been on low carb diets for more than a few years and the because of the advent of better cholesterol screening, such as the Lipoprotein NMR.

So I've gone back to using more mono saturated oils. It appears that expeller pressed oils are the way to go, good old Canola oil and Safflower oil being best for higher heat and Olive oil for lower heat and dressings, etc. It's essential that they be cold pressed, because even healthy oils processed using heat, destroys the healthy aspects of the oil. These three oils are rich in linoleic acid, which is that great thing that makes that great enzyme, that revs up ones metabolism. Sounds good to me.

Another thing about low carb diets, they seem to be depressing thyroid function in some. I still eat semi low carb and sugar free, just because carbs are so fattening.

Unknown said...

During the 1930s, women at a laboratory in the Soviet Union were inseminated with semen from gorillas in an attempt to create a hybrid race that might be useful as workers and soldiers. This indicates to me that A) they were pretty ignorant of genetics since none of the women were ever going to conceive from this procedure B) the people doing his were unconstrained by the sort of moral restraints that most people seem to assume exist nearly universally.

Alex said...

Even though "genetic modification" conjures images of Eugenics Wars and genocides, imagine your grandma given sight again. Or a war amputee having a new leg that is a real leg!

So many possibilities that have nothing to do with nefarious ends.

David said...

We are already into modification by surgery. Problem is it doesn't work very well. So the decision has been made. The means are missing.

David said...

So Inga have you been genotyped?

You can't really obsess over this effectively unless you have been genotyped.

Inga said...

No David, I haven't been. If I am one of the unfortunates with the familial hypercholesterolemia, the high saturated fat in low carb diets is not good choice for me. It appears there are people (without the bad Apo type) who are not metabolizing the fats out of their system and are recycling it instead, that's how I understand it from discussions with my doc and the reading I've been doing.

AlanKH said...

The role of mice in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is starting to make sense...

raf said...

Early adopters will be professional athletes. Looking at NFL linemen, you might think they already have.

30yearProf said...

On my 65th birthday, I became a believer in genetically-modified humans. I want to be a test subject!

30yearProf said...

On my 65th birthday, I became a believer in genetically-modified humans. I want to be a test subject!