GATTACA for Real


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The genetics that determine who we are as individuals come from the DNA of the reproductive cells of our parents (the sperm and egg).  We don't decide whether we receive the genes to be tall, dark, and handsome.  In a sense, we are who we are by chance.  There are millions of sperm going after a given egg and each sperm contains different combinations of a father's DNA.  Each egg contains different combinations as well.  With this being said, you could be one of a relatively large number of possibilities of yourself.

Science has made leaps and bounds in the understanding of genetics.  We now know that there are hundreds of genes that, when dysfunctional, are correlated with disorders.  Many of these disorders include cancers, asthma, diabetes and almost any thing else you could imagine.  This list is quite extensive and includes issues from alcoholism to schizophrenia.  All this information has had little use in finding a solution until recently.

An article on ScienceDaily.com about genetic manipulation was posted the other day.  The article talks about how experimentation with mice has led to the belief that one day we could eliminate some of these disorders from future generations.  If you have ever seen the movie Gattaca you would be familiar with the idea.  The movie however, took the thought to a whole new level in which humans were created in test tubes using the ideal set of genes from both parents.

The experiments being done on the mice involved introducing new DNA to the sperm with the use of a virus.  The virus acts as a carrier of the DNA and releases it in the sperm of the mice.  The genes were successfully found to be present in the following three generations of mice.  The theory that the experiment could also be done on human test subjects seems to be plausible.

If the experiment is found to work on humans, it would allow for new frontiers in medicine.  It could eliminate the possibility or decrease the likelihood of hundreds of disorders from occurring in new generations of the human race.  Rather than medicating these problems, we could prevent them from occurring in the first place.  This idea would be similar to vaccinating our future population as embryos.  Obviously this wouldn't come cheap and mostly the wealthier part of the population would benefit from the genetic manipulation.  It seems like a something out of science fiction, like the movie Gattaca, but the experimentation makes the idea all the more real.

Article in ScienceDaily

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131202171926.htm

Gattaca

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gattaca

List of Genetically Related Disorders.

http://www.genecards.org/cgi-bin/listdiseasecards.pl?type=full

1 Comment

This is definitely an interesting topic. I personally like the idea of genetic manipulation sometimes but then at other times I feel like it is asking for trouble. Genetic manipulation could save hundreds of lives or it could create hundreds of problems we can't even imagine. The following article states the good things that can happen from genetic manipulation but it also states the ethical issues that arise with this topic. It states, "Will these interventions redefine what it means to be “normal”?" I think that this question, along with all the other ones, is something that we should be asking ourselves as we get further into research on genetic manipulation. Because of the huge ethical issues, I would say that genetic manipulation should not be done in humans. We never know what type of problems we are creating by trying to fix other ones.
http://www.actionbioscience.org/biotech/glenn.html

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