View Poll Results: Should we genetically alter the human race?

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  • We should correct genetic disorders and create smarter, stronger humans.

    8 42.11%
  • We should correct genetic disorders, but not try to create better humans.

    7 36.84%
  • We should not alter human genetic makeup at all.

    4 21.05%

Genetic manipulation of humans?

This is a discussion on Genetic manipulation of humans? within the A Brief History of Cprogramming.com forums, part of the Community Boards category; about 100 percent efficiency... i would imagine that since altering chromosomes is on a much smaller scope then something further ...

  1. #16
    Linguistic Engineer... doubleanti's Avatar
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    about 100 percent efficiency... i would imagine that since altering chromosomes is on a much smaller scope then something further involved in biology... that the efficiency would be much more stringently aligned... but until a maybe a week after we've reviewed genetics i wouldn't be more well read on the subject...

    >is changing the method of the natural selection

    that's my main concern when it comes to science 'playing god'... but again it could be all part and parcel... someone thought along the lines of 'if god wanted us to believe in god, s/he would not have allowed us to think otherwise'... and in this sense, it applies...
    hasafraggin shizigishin oppashigger...

  2. #17
    Registered User rick barclay's Avatar
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    >Thalidomide was a very bad case of lack of sufficient testing to ensure safety. It is quite safe for any man, or any non-pregnant woman to take, and in fact, it is proving to be a very good drug to give cancer and HIV patients.<

    How in the world did we get from being a pregnancy aid to
    cancer and HIV treatment? I wasn't aware that thalidomide was
    even in use anymore.

    And I don't think you're going to have much success convincing
    common folks that their genes are polluted. "Whatchoomean
    my gene's polluted, Willis?"

    Or is this where the Genome Project is leading us? It seems to
    me a lot of gynocologists will be doing things to prospective
    moms in the name of "science" without telling the moms just
    what it is they're doing. Because, I imagine, if they do start
    telling those mom-to-be what they have a mind to do, then the
    mothers will turn and run screaming from the doctor's office.

    You can't just go and start operating on people's genes without
    telling them about it, and once they do know what you're up to,
    all hell is going to break loose. And another scenario might be this: my late brother-in-law was a congenital cancer risk. Say
    his wife tells her gyno and the gyno assures her that a gene
    alteration will eliminate any chance of her child being a cancer
    risk. But after the gene alteration and the child is born, it turns
    out the child is myopic and retarded. What then? Is the doctor
    responsible? You'll have a hard time convincing anyone otherwise.
    I think before the general population is ready to accept any kind
    of gene therapy on itself, there will have to be at the very least a 99% success rate on gene research in laboratory testing. And
    even that might not be good enough, because the moral issues
    here are clearcut and sharply divisive.

    rick barclay
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  3. #18
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    Thalidomide has a LOT of good properties. It reduces nausea, which was why it was given (unfortunately) to pregnant women.

    It is also an antiangiogenisis agent; it reduces the body's ability to form new blood vessels. Because cancerous tumors require a large amount of blood, they can often be destroyed by literally starving the cells, by preventing the body from creating new capillaries to feed the new cells.

    I am not sure exactly what its application was in HIV/AIDS; it may have been used simply to treat symptoms.

    I do know there are reasons to use thalidomide in treatment of leprosy, AIDS, and cancer.

    If we can get gene targetting down to an exact science, I think a lot of people would accept minimal risk to prevent problems. For example, if you knew your child would either have a 65% risk of cancer (as you would have if you had a certain mutation), or a 0.1% risk of developing complications, which would you choose? People vaccinate their children for many things, and that poses a risk of death, in extreme cases. This "gene vaccination" would be no different. Eliminate diseases before they become too complicated to treat.

  4. #19
    Linguistic Engineer... doubleanti's Avatar
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    i gave blood today... i was pretty scared, it was a bit painful... the needle was deep... i bring this up because consent changes as the winds and, even though you know you'll be fine anyway, you still get the butterflies.... [i did at least...] so to what extent does emotion and rationalization conflict about a matter like this? or anything? that's it's own topic...

    different strokes was a good show...
    hasafraggin shizigishin oppashigger...

  5. #20
    Registered User rick barclay's Avatar
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    In my sister's case, she chose not to have children--a very wise,
    no-brainer of a choice. Her husband died of brain cancer after a
    very, very long illness, during which I realize now that there was
    a lot of denial and concealing on both my sister's and her husband's part. He had a master's degree from Seton Hall U.
    and was personnel manager at Alcan Aluminum and in the prime of his life when the first symptoms struck--fainting spells. He lost
    his job and his ability to work several years later, and by the
    time he died he needed constant attention and monitoring. I never met anyone like him. To this this day I think of him as the
    happiest man alive, because that's how I remember him before
    the cancer took over. He was emminently intelligent, treated
    his unworthy brother-in-law like a blood brother, and was just
    the most decent man one could imagine. But cancer took him.
    My sister knew the risks of having children by this man. What do
    you think her decision would have been had a genome process
    been available to her? She's every bit as intelligent and educated as her husband was, very confident in the correctness of her decisions. Yet knowing my sister as I do, I don't think she would have risked having a child even if the percentages of inheriting
    that mutant gene were less than .0001%. I don't think she would
    have had the baby. We men can sit here all day long at our computers and debate the merits of risking our children's health,
    but it's the women who have to make the ultimate decision in
    matters involving birth defects and taking risks, and they're the ones who bear ultimate responsibility for whether or not their babies are born as functional human beings or human vegetables.
    Every married man here on this board who has an opinion about this topic should stop and ask himself, "How would my wife and I deal with this. Birth defects run in my family's history. What do I
    tell her? Should we go through with it and let the scientists alter
    our dna or whatever it is they do to change the gene structure and have a natural child? What if she says, 'No?' What if she says
    'Yes?'" There's a thousand questions to be answered, here, a thousand questions before even the first step is taken. And after that first step there's more questions and more doubt about
    this being the right decision, right up to and after the child is born. And should that child be born deformed in any way, what
    then? At whose urging did we do this to our baby?
    And so on and so forth. This may seem like an easy topic to debate, scientifically, but there are personal considerations that have to be taken into account, too, and that's what is going to make the subject of genetiacally altered babies a most controverial point of contention in the future.

    rick barclay
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  6. #21
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    I agree, it is not likely to take hold in the average person's life. Not unless some pretty unethical scare tactics take place, and then like Rick says, what if there is something wrong after the alteration?

    Gatica was a good movie, anyone here see it? Discrimination has enough of a presence in our society, why add genetic manipulation (again as in WWII and the "master race")?

    EDIT: I am not convinced the gene pool is going to hell in a hand basket. Believe it or not, people with handycaps are still at a considerable disadvantage (not that many/most of them don't have great genes anyway). Last I read, the average life span for a blind person in the US was 9 years of age. I think there is a huge human population on Earth, and disease is just a symptom of that (and NASA dumping radioactive waste on us from burned up satellites, of course..)
    Last edited by Justin W; 11-29-2001 at 08:38 PM.
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  7. #22
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    The overpopulation and the selection are parts of the smae problem.

    In many species, less than one in three individuals reproduces, period. So only those with the best complement of genes stand much of a chance. This rapidly purifies the gene pool.

    I never said that selection, as a whole, is completely gone. It will always exist in SOME form. But, the issue is that it is highly reduced. In its current state, it is weeding out defects slower than defects emerge.

    As I said, we *already see this*. No other species which relies on eyesight has the degree of prevalence of eye malformation as the human. It's not a theory that the gene poll *may become* polluted, it's a fact that the gene pool *is* polluted.

    Another interesting point: Allergies. In countries with poor health care (3rd world countries) there are populations that have not felt nearly so much of this effect as the 1st world countries. In many of these populations, there ARE no individuals with allergies; they're incredibly rare. Yet the vast majority of Americans DO have allergies -- one of the least harmful autoimmune disorders, but it may be a distrubing sign. Nobody knows what the exact link between developed nations and allergies is, so it can't be necessarily blamed on gene pool corruption, but that is one suspect.

    And BTW: To Rick: 0.001% chance of getting a gene which promotes cancer would be better odds than most children have -- cancer is actually quite common. In fact, every human, if they live long enough, will develop cancer at some point; those who don't develop cancer just died of something else before they got cancer.

    Cancer is not even necessarily genetic in nature -- you'd need to test the gametes for corrupt copies of certain genes (the oncogenes). But it's more than possible for someone to just get unlucky -- have all the right genes to give them good chances of surviving cancer, yet not develop it. Having bad copies of genes which relate to DNA repair just increases the risk of cell mutation, and thus cancer -- the risk of cancer is always present in any human.

    Also, to those against gene therapy: would you withhold a cure for a disease from those who can use it? I'm not necessarily talking about artificial reproduction -- but if you could genetically sample your child, either in utero or after birth, wouldn't you opt to correct genetic flaws? If you knew you could reduce your child's risk of cancer from 50% to 1%, would you? Obviously, after birth, not all genetic flaws could be corrected, but many could.

  8. #23
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    I'm not necessarily talking about artificial reproduction -- but if you could genetically sample your child, either in utero or after birth, wouldn't you opt to correct genetic flaws?
    Predisposition to disease is debatable. Some things you catch or develop from your environment. Most things. Our environment and the fact we don't kill anyone "defective" is the reason we have more sick than the animal kingdom on average. I for one, don't believe something just because it is a prevalent theory. We should all question these ideas. New != better. Nor do I believe the current methods we use to determine what genes do is foolproof or even very good. I will let my child develop naturally as MY child, not something I point and click into existence. Maybe I don't like a certain color tone? Maybe my child misses something really important in life because of this. It is my fault, not chance. Maybe my child is destined to be deaf and this is very hard on him/her. But maybe he/she needs this to become the next Beethoven. If I didn't want a child that was a part of me, I would adopt (which is a better option than genetic engineering, and often better than having your own kids).
    Last edited by Justin W; 11-29-2001 at 10:36 PM.
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  9. #24
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    What about discrimination and technological abuse? These issues have not been addressed.
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  10. #25
    Registered User rick barclay's Avatar
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    >Another interesting point: Allergies. In countries with poor health care (3rd world countries) there are populations that have not felt nearly so much of this effect as the 1st world countries. In many of these populations, there ARE no individuals with allergies; they're incredibly rare. Yet the vast majority of Americans DO have allergies -- one of the least harmful autoimmune disorders, but it may be a distrubing sign. Nobody knows what the exact link between developed nations and allergies is, so it can't be necessarily blamed on gene pool corruption, but that is one suspect. <

    I think Americans are way too antiseptic for their own good. Their
    battle against germs and dirt reach the fetish point for some. And
    yet, as your studies reveal, the ambivalent reality in just such
    cases where one's fear of things unclean touches upon phobia, truth would seem to indicate that it's more healthy to be a little more dirty than clean! But then again the dirt one encounters in
    a Third World country is stretching that premise just a mite too
    thin. But if you travel back in the opposite direction to squeaky-clean America you do find the daunting realization that too clean
    might be just as detrimental to your health as African ebola. I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle of those two
    extremes. You need just so much dirt as can safely distract whatever might ail you--just don't overdo it and give those bad
    boys a good reason to fall in love with your body.

    As to your views on cancer, yeah it will get you in the end one
    way or another whether or not it runs in your family. Think how long a healthy man would live if he could live without that fear
    of cancer. Some of the oldsters in Russia and its former republics
    live to 130. Is it cancer that takes them in the end?
    My father at 73 was at the peak of health for a man his age when one day while having his car fixed something, a stray piece of
    debris flew into his eye. It was just a speck, but it irritated him
    to the point where his eye became infected, and from that point on he deteriorated until it was discovered that he had cancer.
    The cancer was found in the area of his infected eye and he died at age 76. If he hadn't been in that garage at the appointed time, who knows how long he would have lived.
    But my brother-in-laws case offers strong testimony that there
    are genetic forms of cancer, too. He knew it ran in his family's
    history. There was no untimely event that set it off; it was there all along in his brain, just as it was in prior generations, planted
    there like a seed and set to germinate at a proper time. Who
    knows? Maybe no amount of gene correction could have saved him. And quite possibly no amount of gene doctoring could have
    saved his unborn baby. That could be another terrible truth we
    have yet to discover as we travel into the wondersome world of genetics.

    rick barclay
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  11. #26
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    I think the biggest change in our 'evolution' is that before most of the forces powering the change were external to the population ie nature, predation.
    Now they are internal ie disease, fashion (eg Japan's population is getting more 'western' due to the 'hollywood' influence). This is due to our larger population size and density.
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  12. #27
    It's full of stars adrianxw's Avatar
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    Sorry, I know this is going back a bit in the thread, but Thalidomide exists in 2 forms. They have the same formula but have what is called a chiral centre, the two forms are, simplistically, left handed and right handed. Such forms are called enantiomorphs. One enantiomorph is used now in a variety of cases as discussed, it was the other that was responsible for the disaster. The enantiomorphic selection process has improved dramatically since the 50-60's as has the understanding of such matters.
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  13. #28
    Registered User rick barclay's Avatar
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    Two days ago, I think I would have punched anyone in the nose
    who told me they were going to treat me with thalidomide. Then
    I would have run out of that doctor's office and up to the nearest
    policeman and told him there was a man impersonating a doctor
    who was trying to kill me.

    But I'm a very wishy-washy type. My mind is easily changed. I
    find it incredible that anyone who is familiar with the thalidomide
    disaster of the 60's would trust anybody to use it on him in a
    therapeutic way.

    rick barclay
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    This is America calling!

  14. #29
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    Instead of creating new humans, we should work on bringing the dead back to life and use them to squash our foes, just like in the movie "Universal Soldier"

  15. #30
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    Originally posted by adrianxw
    Sorry, I know this is going back a bit in the thread, but Thalidomide exists in 2 forms. They have the same formula but have what is called a chiral centre, the two forms are, simplistically, left handed and right handed. Such forms are called enantiomorphs. One enantiomorph is used now in a variety of cases as discussed, it was the other that was responsible for the disaster. The enantiomorphic selection process has improved dramatically since the 50-60's as has the understanding of such matters.
    Actually, thalidomide still cannot be used on pregnant females, because as it moves through the bloodstream, it racemizes (it converts to equal amounts of each form). So, in the blood, even if you injected people with only the R (+) form of the enantiomer, which is the medicinal form, it would equilibrate to 50% each of the R (+) and S (-) forms in the blood; when a chemical equilibrates to equal amounts of both forms, the mixture is called a racemate.

    However, thalidomide is a teratogen (chemical which causes embryological defects), not a carcinogen. The S (-) form of thalidomide causes birth defects in a child if given to the mother during a specific time in pregnancy. It is completely harmless to an adult, in fact, it has no known side effects. Any male could take thalidomide with complete confidence; any female who is guaranteed to not be pregnant may also take it, and neither will experience anything undesirable.

    Thalidomide will still never see use in pregnant women, because even though you can use techniques to isolate one form in the lab, in blood conditions, the temperature and pH are such that the two forms can freely convert between each other, and regardless of the initial proportion of R to S enantiomers, the drug will reach 50% of each form (a racemate) much faster than it will be removed from the bloodstream.

    BTW, thalidomide is used in HIV patients because it also acts to inhibit the release of TNF-alpha. TNF-alpha is a chemical released into the blood during infection, which can reach very high levels in AIDS victims. This is undesirable because high TNF-alpha levels increase HIV activity; thalidomide can reduce the rate of HIV production, and help in slowing the progression of AIDS.

    Thalidomide was a very unfortunate story. It's a very useful drug, and all tests, which had been conducted on animals and humans, showed no side effects. But the drug manufacturers failed to test the drug for teratogenic properties -- all the tests were on nonpregnant adults, so the terrible side effects which happen when given to pregnant women were unforseen. It is a horrific oversight, which has had a huge impact on drug regulations in many countries, and has changed how the drug industry and the governments of the world approach testing.
    Last edited by The V.; 11-30-2001 at 05:44 PM.

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