Author Topic: Genetic engineering of people  (Read 748 times)

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Online One Above All

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Genetic engineering of people
« on: June 16, 2013, 10:15:07 AM »
Would it be theoretically possible to splice together a person[1] with the abilities of other living beings, like trees[2], et cetera?
 1. I don't say "human" because, technically, they would no longer be human.
 2. Photosynthesis and such.
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Offline Nick

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Re: Genetic engineering of people
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2013, 12:52:47 PM »
I think I'll leaf that one alone. ;)
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Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: Genetic engineering of people
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2013, 02:02:47 PM »
Good idea. We could get to the root cause of a lot of our problems, and branch out from there.

Actually it is possible to take genes out of plants and put them in animals, and vice versa. They took a gene out of a fish and put it tomatoes to make them more freeze resistant. Someone made green fluorescent pigs using something from single cell organisms. Or a bunch of tiny iPhones, I forget which.

The science is in its infancy, or its seed stage, or something. Hard to say how common it will get. But maybe being green with envy will get easier soon.

Here is a short blurb on the fish tomato: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_tomato

Here is an article about the green flourescent stuff and what it has been used in: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_fluorescent_protein

Sorry for the bad jokes. Those are the only kinds I know.


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Online One Above All

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Re: Genetic engineering of people
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2013, 02:12:36 PM »
We could get to the root cause of a lot of our problems, and branch out from there.

My thoughts exactly. If we could make animals[1] able to process minerals, rather than simply other living beings, maybe even make them photosynthetic, it could solve a lot of problems.

Actually it is possible to take genes out of plants and put them in animals, and vice versa. They took a gene out of a fish and put it tomatoes to make them more freeze resistant. Someone made green fluorescent pigs using something from single cell organisms.
<snip>
Here is a short blurb on the fish tomato: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_tomato

Here is an article about the green flourescent stuff and what it has been used in: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_fluorescent_protein

Thanks for the info. I'd heard about GMO's, but I thought they were just created with the same genes as their own kind.

Sorry for the bad jokes. Those are the only kinds I know.

Just be glad I (usually) keep my jokes to myself.
 1. I doubt people would want to.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

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Online Graybeard

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Re: Genetic engineering of people
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2013, 06:08:05 AM »
If we could make animals[1] able to process minerals, rather than simply other living beings, maybe even make them photosynthetic, it could solve a lot of problems.
 1. I doubt people would want to.
Come on, admit it, you want a goose that lays golden eggs. However, it is more likely that you will get bacteria that consume and allow for the recovery of metallic pollution: http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/rtao/research/rhl/pollute.htm

A friend of mine stopped on a UK motorway (which is prohibited) and went behind some bushes to have a pee. When he returned, he found a policeman waiting to ticket him. When asked for an explanation of why he had stopped, he replied, "I thought I could smell petrol." to which the policeman responded, "If you could piss petrol, the Arabs would be out of business."

I think that policeman saw the possibilities of genetic engineering...
« Last Edit: June 18, 2013, 06:11:31 AM by Graybeard »
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Online One Above All

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Re: Genetic engineering of people
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2013, 06:13:35 AM »
Come on, admit it, you want a goose that lays golden eggs.

Since when have I been trying to hide it?
Quote from: Agent Smith
I want what you want, Mr. Anderson. I want everything.
(If I'm not mistaken, that's the proper quote)

However, it is more likely that you will get bacteria that consume and allow for the recovery of metallic pollution: http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/rtao/research/rhl/pollute.htm

Bacteria are simpler, so it would make sense. Thanks for the link.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

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Offline Nick

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Re: Genetic engineering of people
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2013, 06:17:43 AM »
I thought that already happened in the past with centaurs, mermaids, etc.
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

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Offline William

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Re: Genetic engineering of people
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2013, 08:43:13 AM »
Would it be theoretically possible to splice together a person[1] with the abilities of other living beings, like trees[2], et cetera?
 1. I don't say "human" because, technically, they would no longer be human.
 2. Photosynthesis and such.

Theoretically possible yes, but practically very difficult.
Most genes taken from distantly evolved species would not be properly expressed when moved.  Minor evolved coding differences could be easily identified and corrected - say by working backwards from the desired proteins to synthetic genes that would work to produce similar proteins in the new host.
But the hard part would be replicating the whole machinery of gene expression i.e.control mechanisms and molecular assembly systems - all of which have evolved in different directions in various evolutionary linages.  There is no guarantee an identical protein will function in the same way in vastly different species. 

Basically the total molecular environment of species diverges once they no longer interbreed - in unpredictable ways.  You might get lucky with some genes or the products of some genes - which is why the search for pharmaceuticals goes on so frantically in threatened ecosystems containing biodiversity that will be inevitably lost. However, even when they find molecules with potentially useful activity/properties it's still a challenge to get them to work as desired in other species, and to especially to identify and control side effects.
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Offline Backspace

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Re: Genetic engineering of people
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2013, 01:36:04 PM »
Someone made green fluorescent pigs using something from single cell organisms.

Perhaps it was Dr. Seuss.  Unable to make green eggs and ham, he went for eggs and green ham.

Or perhaps not.
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Online One Above All

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Re: Genetic engineering of people
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2013, 01:45:27 PM »
I thought that already happened in the past with centaurs, mermaids, etc.

Dude, you're not being funny. Stop it.

Theoretically possible yes, but practically very difficult.

I am well aware of how difficult it would be.

Most genes taken from distantly evolved species would not be properly expressed when moved.  Minor evolved coding differences could be easily identified and corrected - say by working backwards from the desired proteins to synthetic genes that would work to produce similar proteins in the new host.
<snip>

I was not aware of this. Mind giving me more info? Why would the same genes be expressed differently in species that, while different, share a common ancestor and DNA?
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

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Offline William

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Re: Genetic engineering of people
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2013, 05:53:49 PM »
I was not aware of this. Mind giving me more info? Why would the same genes be expressed differently in species that, while different, share a common ancestor and DNA?

Moving a gene from a plant to an animal may just work - but more likely it will be similar to lifting the engine directly out of a VW beetle and trying to bolt it into a Trabant without modification. Some parts may look similar and even have the same function - but the 3D 'fit' is different and the controls are in the wrong places.

'Genes' are often not neat little discrete self-contained packages that can be cut and pasted from one genome to another.  They consist of areas that code for amino acids (building blocks of proteins) and areas involved in regulation.  These areas are sometimes not contiguous.  Some finished functional proteins are actually assemblies derived from several amino acid coding areas in different parts of the genome.  The DNA involved in regulation is sometimes vast - much of it was once termed "junk DNA" before we understood it better - and some of it depends on complex interactions with other proteins not coded for by the "genes" of interest.  All of it is diverging in different species and has evolved in the context of other molecules within that same species - it's a 3D molecular environment optimised to work with itself. 

The genetic code is said to be "universal" but there are indeed a few tiny differences e.g. [UGA] is normally a 'stop' codon, but in the mitochondria of Drosophila it's the code for tryptophan.  Also, there is substantial degeneracy in the universal code. There are 64 codons, 61 of them code for only 20 amino acids  (the other three are stop codes). With all this 'slack' in the coding system, different species have evolved codon usage biases - for which they are now optimised - so they may not code efficiently if moved into the 3D cell apparatus of another species.

One way to overcome some of this complexity would be to study the plant protein of interest and how it gets assembled or folds into the right shape to function properly, then try to reverse engineer that into synthetic DNA and splice it into a well known regulation mechanism such as the machinery of a virus that splices itself into the human genome.  The risks are fairly obvious :police: 

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Offline Xero-Kill

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Re: Genetic engineering of people
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2013, 09:37:54 AM »
Ummm, this is already a reality for plants, animals, and microorgansims... and being used to produce spider silk from goats milk and dozens of different pharmaceutical applications.

Transgenesis
BioSteel

It is entirely plausible on humans. The only thing currently holding up this frontier in science is the ethical debates surrounding it. The only thing left to consider is what we can, and are willing, to do with it. There may be genes that are mutually exclusive, or produce unexpected results, but I think we can technically combine any set of traits we so desire.
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Offline William

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Re: Genetic engineering of people
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2013, 11:08:29 AM »
It is entirely plausible on humans.
Plausible? Yes. 
Procedurally settled? No.  And it depends on the gene of interest and its expression control mechanisms.
Safe? Not yet.

The only thing currently holding up this frontier in science is the ethical debates surrounding it.
True, but not the only thing.  Attempts to put genes into bacteria, tomatoes, mice, etc do not have to worry about the failures.  The individuals are expendable.  The failed experiments can just go in the bin.  Most effort goes into screening tests to detect the rare instances of success.

Never mind transgenic - just the technical challenges of gene therapy have ensured that progress (while real) is extremely limited, and often what worked once does not work again.  Accurate delivery and integration of genes into full grown humans is far more complicated than the ethics of it.   

Some progress has been made with transgenic human cell lines in culture.  But again, individual cells and sub-cultures are perfectly expendable.
 
The future may involve culturing stem cells taken from a particular patient, doing all the trial and error work in the lab to get a gene(s) of interest into those cells and expressing correctly, screening for success and then implanting the engineered stem cells back into the human.  This would be a somatic fix only - nowhere near a permanent germ line modification which is technically (and ethically) massively more problematic.
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Offline Xero-Kill

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Re: Genetic engineering of people
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2013, 12:03:03 PM »
Thanks for the clarification. I guess I over-simplified it due to my layman nature.

Great food for thought though!
"Our fathers were our models for God. If our fathers bailed, what does that tell you about God? You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you. He never wanted you. In all probability, he hates you. This is not the worst thing that can happen."

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Online One Above All

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Re: Genetic engineering of people
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2013, 12:05:18 PM »
Would it be possible to change the DNA of every cell of a fully grown human, or does genetic engineering require a single-celled being?
« Last Edit: July 11, 2013, 12:10:51 PM by One Above All »
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

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Offline William

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Re: Genetic engineering of people
« Reply #15 on: July 11, 2013, 12:09:11 PM »
If you changed the DNA of a gamete or of the fertilized egg that change would end up in the entire organism - and be inherited in the next generation if the organism survived and was fertile.
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Re: Genetic engineering of people
« Reply #16 on: July 11, 2013, 12:11:21 PM »
If you changed the DNA of a gamete or of the fertilized egg that change would end up in the entire organism - and be inherited in the next generation if the organism survived and was fertile.

I know that. My question was if, with a fully-grown human, it would be possible to change the DNA of every cell.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline William

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Re: Genetic engineering of people
« Reply #17 on: July 11, 2013, 12:17:51 PM »
I know that. My question was if, with a fully-grown human, it would be possible to change the DNA of every cell.

With current technology - no.
A cleverly engineered retrovirus might get into a lot of cells - but probably never every cell.
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Online One Above All

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Re: Genetic engineering of people
« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2013, 12:23:23 PM »
With current technology - no.
A cleverly engineered retrovirus might get into a lot of cells - but probably never every cell.

That's disappointing. I'd probably volunteer for such an experiment, depending on, among other things, what traits they wanted to pass on to humans.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline William

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Re: Genetic engineering of people
« Reply #19 on: July 11, 2013, 12:33:05 PM »
Keep an eye on research into Human Endogenous Retroviruses. (HERV)
That's maybe the most promising mechanism for controlled germ line infection.  At least the genetic "fossil record" shows that mechanism has worked in our recent evolutionary past.
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Offline Nam

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Re: Genetic engineering of people
« Reply #20 on: July 11, 2013, 12:53:21 PM »
Good idea. We could get to the root cause of a lot of our problems, and branch out from there.

Actually it is possible to take genes out of plants and put them in animals, and vice versa. They took a gene out of a fish and put it tomatoes to make them more freeze resistant. Someone made green fluorescent pigs using something from single cell organisms. Or a bunch of tiny iPhones, I forget which.

The science is in its infancy, or its seed stage, or something. Hard to say how common it will get. But maybe being green with envy will get easier soon.

Here is a short blurb on the fish tomato: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_tomato

Here is an article about the green flourescent stuff and what it has been used in: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_fluorescent_protein

Sorry for the bad jokes. Those are the only kinds I know.




Could you please spell fluorescent correctly. Unless you're trying to make some new type of flour; my apologies.

:P

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