By: Ion Widget



Genetic Enhancement:
The start of a dangerous and benificial path of human existance.


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My Views:



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March 25th 2007:

My first opinion or thoughts about this was when I read the story Enders Shadow, about Bean, he is a geneticaly modified child who was going to be desroyed but escaped at only a few months old, he has been mentaly enhanced but he will die at a young age of giantizem. I thought if humans were capable of doing this it would be a great thing, but it might make the human races chopped up and paranoid.



April 8th 2007:

My personal opinion on genetic enhancement is rather unique. While I support genetic enhancement in almost every possible way (e.g. stem cell research, cloning, and everything else that is out there), I am against genetic enhancement for the fact that there is no way to test properly except on human beings. If a change is made in the DNA of a human, it should not be considered human anymore but an individual species, not a sub-species of human. But if an experiment were to go wrong, where do you draw the line for exercising euthenasia? If the experiment failed but the person was altered but it would not really effect them negatively or if it was a mistake that made the person super intelligent or be able to physicaly perform at a greater level than normal, what then? And even if the mistake was fatal, scientists would want to study the subject and see what they did wrong and what actually happens in that instance. The subjects would have to be monitered 24/7 and would probably never see outside of there containment buildings. The Human race would become extremely dependant on the fixing of defects and mutations, and people would lose there uniqueness because everyone would become the same. There might actually be a "normal" or "stock standard" person.


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or view my research journal
and the journal of Journal of Dr. F Philips

Image of DNA Double Helix was found at : http://www.accelrys.com/reference/gallery/life/dna_cpk_lg.jpg
Image of glowing tabaco plant with firefly gene found at: http://www.biocrawler.com/encyclopedia/Image:Glowing_tobacco_plant.jpg








The Spectrum of Genetic Modification:

Currently the research on genetic enhancement, modification and engineering of humans and animals is in its infancy. In my searches, I have found that there are several distinct approaches and these can be categorized in different ways.

One way to categorize genetic modification is by looking at an individual humans body and the cells within, this could be considered a population of cells but most research that has developed talks about embryonic enhancement so that there isn’t many cells to change.

The other style of modification is to modify a population, this would take time if scientists relied on reproduction to spread there seed, but if one would mass produce a chemical product to change the genome and sold it as a food product or along those lines it might take a short while or it could be a very long time.

You can think of genetically modifying an individual or a population. The techniques for these are different, for example, you transplant bone marrow to change the cells in a person (individual) and you breed a line of dogs (population). These categories can be crossed because an individual can be thought of a population of cells.


The spectrum of genetic Modification
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Cloning:

Reproducing a being exactly the way its genome stays it is, so if the subject has gotten a scar or had a broken bone that didn’t heal correctly the clone wouldn’t have these defects. I placed cloning as the least amount of genetic change for this reason.

Grafting:

Implanting or transplanting tissues, organs, limbs, etc… This is not a genetic change but more an implantation of alien, or foreign material. This isn’t quite as low on the scale as cloning even though introducing foreign tissue doesn’t change the genome; the implanted tissue has a genome of its own.
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Line Breeding:

Breeding or mating with a direct relative or a closely related line, also know as selective breeding, this is very common in dogs or cats. This is where genetic change begins to take place even thought it is very little due to the close relation between the two mating partners.

Breeds:

You see this most in dogs, this is where a dog of a "Breed" mates with a closly related line of the same breed. Here there is little room for genetic change but enough so that one can notice physical trait of both the mother and father.

Race:

This is mating within the sects of a species, in the dog world these sects are, terrier, hound, herding, sporting, non-sporting, working, toy. this is where physical traits change often because the sects are very diverse at times, I've found with my families terrier, that they can look extremly different but the personalities are very much the same.

Species:

This is breeding within a species of animal, (eg, dog) this is where variety in the genome is created and very obvious physical traits are could be obtained by the offspring

Hybrids:

This is inter-species breeding, this does not always work but in the instances that it does, you can get things like the mule. Hybrid breeding only works when the mating partners are in a close genetic relation, some fish can hybrid breed, as can dogs with wolfs or dingos.
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Recombination:

This is where a DNA strand is broken then melded on to the end of another strand to make a full one (see illustration) this can cause mutations and other deformities. This has already been used to create mice that glow different colors and has made a glow in the dark pig.









Research compilation:

I have found little human experimentation and what is being done on animals is mainly muscle growth is all very beneficial because this could potentially help cure diseases like muscular dystrophy and other diseases that are based around muscle disintegration/degeneration. All of this is could also be used illegally in sports and for other athletic application.

Cloning is making exact replicas of individual of a genome. This could be very beneficial to the humans by rapidly reproducing high value livestock or crops that are at a high demand. This is all just hypothetical though because there has been only lab work like that of dolly the sheep, but there has been no work or experiments done on human beings or large scale projects to create a perfectly identical crop of food.

Stem cells are “a cell that upon division replaces its own numbers and also gives rise to cells that differentiate further into one or more specialized types, as various B cells and T cells.”(dictionary.com) I found that this is a very touchy issue for some, many people believe that taking the stem cells from an embryo at 5 days old is murder and believe this is an unethical thing to do, while others don’t. Even though one can extract stem cells from an adult, the stem cells are only capable of producing 70 of the possible 220 cells that stem cells of an embryo can produce. Are there other sources of stem cells? I believe that scientists have recently found some. You also need to mention the umbilical cord blood as a source of stem cells – this is not an unethical source.
Stem cell research however has been beneficial to scientist for the knowledge it has brought forth on many genetic diseases.

Genetic recombination is a rather expensive and science fiction thing, even though we as human have managed to do it, it still seems far off and unexplored. This is the proces in which a DNA strand is broken and then re-attached to another. this is a very expensive process, (costing around $100,000 for each strand broken then fixed) and is disturbing at what changes this potentialy could do on the human form.

All of this research however is limited by the lack of human eggs available for experimentation. In 2003 there were approximately 400,000 eggs in storage but that number has dwindled, over time. Recently there have been British scientists who have aimed to end that issue by implanting human DNA into modified cow eggs, and then going through the same process of extraction and destruction (what process? I don’t understand.). These modified cow eggs have had all there own genetic material removed. The theory behind this is to try to fool the cow egg into thinking that it is a pregnant and to start the development of a more human embryo. This was tried almost a decade ago as well by a man named Jose Cibelli, but this was considered unethical and Jose landed himself in a lot of controversy.




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