background preloader

Designer Babies – Like It Or Not, Here They Come

Designer Babies – Like It Or Not, Here They Come
Long before Watson and Crick famously uncovered the structure of DNA in 1953, people envisioned with both horror and hope a day when babies could be custom designed -- free of inherited disease, yet equipped with superior genes for good looks, intelligence, athleticism, and more. Now the beginnings of the day of designer babies have finally come. The Fertility Institutes recently stunned the fertility community by being the first company to boldly offer couples the opportunity to screen their embryos not only for diseases and gender, but also for completely benign characteristics such as eye color, hair color, and complexion. The Fertility Institutes proudly claims this is just the tip of the iceberg, and plans to offer almost any conceivable customization as science makes them available. Even as couples from across the globe are flocking in droves to pay the company their life's savings for a custom baby, opponents are vilifying the company for shattering moral and ethical boundaries.

Related:  BiopunkTranhumanism & Future HumanityBioinformatics & Genomics

Court: Human genes cannot be patented Unanimous ruling a compromise; court says synthetic material, cDNA, can be patentedActress Angelina Jolie drove attention to the issue involving breast cancerIssue was whether "products of nature" could be treated similarly to human inventionsCompany at center of case says decision upheld a key claim on synthetic DNA Washington (CNN) -- The Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Thursday that human genes cannot be patented. But in something of a compromise, all nine justices said while the naturally occurring isolated biological material itself is not patentable, a synthetic version of the gene material may be patented. Legal and medical experts believe the decision will have a lasting impact on genetic testing, likely making varieties more widely available and more affordable.

Supreme Court Nixes Patenting Human Genes The Justices have decided that isolated sequences of human DNA are not eligible for patent protection, but rules that artificial sequences can be patented. The United States Supreme Court has today (June 13) unanimously ruled that isolated human genes cannot be patented, but the Justices also ruled that synthetic DNA sequences—known as complimentary DNA (cDNA)—are eligible for protection. “A naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated,” wrote Justice Clarence Thomas, “but cDNA is patent eligible because it is not naturally occurring.” The decision throws out patents held by Utah-based Myriad Genetics on 2 genes—BRCA1 and BRCA2—that when mutated cause breast and other types of cancer. Researchers, physicians, and patients who sued Myriad are claiming victory because the ruling means that the company no longer has a monopoly on diagnostic tests based on these two genes.

The Universe Is Dying We’re all screwed. Well, if you’re planning to stick around for a few more billion years. Researchers have found that galaxies are losing energy at a rather alarming rate, and confirm that all energy in the universe will eventually dissipate into nothingness. A study of 200,000 galaxies found they had lost half their energy in just two billion years. “The universe is slowly dying,” a statement from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) somberly says. The theory that the universe is dying through an increase in entropy is not new, but this is the most extensive analysis yet of what’s going on. News Highlights:Most Cancers Due to Bad Luck, Not Heredity or Lifestyle You eat healthy, exercise regularly, and avoid toxic substances. You even—so far as you know—have “good genes.” You should be protected against cancer, right?

Ashley Treatment The Ashley Treatment refers to a controversial set of medical procedures undergone by a Seattle child, "Ashley X". Ashley, born in 1997, has severe developmental disabilities due to static encephalopathy of unknown etiology; she is assumed to be at an infant level mentally and physically. The treatment included growth attenuation via estrogen therapy; hysterectomy, bilateral breast bud removal, and appendectomy.[1]

World First: Scientists Observe DNA Shuttling Between Cells, Triggering Tumor Growth In a world first, scientists have demonstrated that a particular type of DNA can shuttle between cells in an animal, a finding that will rewrite textbook science. During their study, the team observed that DNA from a mouse's second genome, or mitochondrial DNA, could be transferred from healthy tissue to tumor cells in mice, promoting cancer growth and spread. Not only could these important findings help further our understanding of cancer and other diseases, but they raise the tantalizing possibility that one day, it might be possible to replace faulty, disease-causing genes with synthetic, custom-designed mitochondrial DNA in a bid to fight a wide variety of illnesses. The work has been published in Cell Metabolism.

How to raise cloned children without totally screwing them up A lot of concern over nothing. Does anybody have any trouble with the fact that identical twins in no way threaten each other's autonomous existence? What are clones except identical twins? Okay, they're metachronous identical twins, with the second identical twin born perhaps many years after the first. But shouldn't that separation of years make it even less likely that anyone will confuse the separateness of two individuals whose only point of identity is that they share one genome? (And even that's not entirely clear, but let's leave it simple and stark for now.)

Will machines eventually take on every job? It’s a booming time to be a truck driver. According to data NPR compiled from the US Census Bureau, truck driving is currently the most popular job in 29 states. It’s not that truck driving is a particularly sought after career path, however. Rather, it is simply one that is available and pays decently. Unlike a plethora of other jobs that have declined in recent years, truck driving has remained immune to the forces that have elbowed out different lines of work. In the past decades, computers, cash machines and self-serve pumps have largely replaced secretaries, bank tellers and gas station attendants, respectively.

Binge Drinking Effects Your Immune System Immediately That binge drinking alters behavior is well known. “But there is less awareness of alcohol’s harmful effects in other areas, such as the immune system,” Loyola University Chicago’s Elizabeth Kovacs says in a news release. Previous studies in both humans and animals revealed that alcohol intoxication exerts effects on the immune system several hours to days after the exposure—when blood alcohol is no longer detectable. Now, to study the effects while blood alcohol is still elevated, a team led by Majid Afshar of Loyola University Health Systems collected blood from seven men and eight women before they voluntarily became intoxicated after “high-dose alcohol consumption.”

The One Scientific Field Most Likely to Get Humanity Into Space '2312', by KS Robinson, is the first, best example of the ways in which speculative fiction serves to imagine first, a solar ecology - replete with diverse microecologies - through terraforming. In fact, Terraforming and remedial Terraforming might be the most appropriate name for your speculative, synergistic, scientific field. In my view. It also can be instrumental in shifting humanity's sense of time from immediate gratification, to an intermediate, historical sense of future achievement - the timeframes necessary for moving into the cosmos - even at the local scale - will need to be attenuated and adjusted accordingly on a social-psychological scale. And while I'm here, may I appeal to the editors to begin crediting images regularly again?

A Simple Daily Pregnancy Pill Could Boost Population IQ And Save The NHS Money An estimated 1.9 billion people are at risk of iodine deficiency, a medical condition that can stunt your brain power. Iodine deficiency – which can be avoided by eating seafood, cereal and cow’s milk (due to iodine in cattle feed) – doesn’t just affect the developing world. Up to one-third of children in Europe are thought to need more iodine in their diets. Because of this, some argue that we should add iodine to salt or provide it in pill-form to pregnant and breast-feeding women, who need even more of it than everyone else. But would the benefits really be worth the cost?

What Will Bioengineered Plants Be Like In The Future? "No biological principle exists forbidding the same plant from reproducing by both spores and seeds" It is called "exaptation". The spore formation is superseded by seed formation, and becomes a part of a more complicated process. Once it does, the mechanics required to form a spore are no longer available as a "standalone feature". (It does happen on a single-gene level in case of duplications, where one copy keeps doing the original function and another is co-opted for a different one, but for something that requires a coordinated developmental process it is much less likely.)

Is Technology Unnatural—Or Is It ‘What Makes Us Human’? Beavers dam rivers; birds build nests; chimpanzees use sticks to fish for ants or termites. Nature at its best. But when humans build dams or use tools to feed ourselves, our creations, though admittedly more complex, are labeled unnatural.