You Want to be Engineered like Wolverine?
We all love the X-Men, especially our buddy Wolverine.
Captain American catches our eyes for guys and gals alike as he dons his tight uniform and holds up his shiny shield. Not to mention, there’s that Spider guy in his spandex. What do these guys all have in common?
Besides the tights, folks.
Human Genetic Engineering (aka HGE).
Well, ok, so Spiderman is technically a straight up genetic mutation. No government made him. But I’ve been watching Spidey since I can remember, and so he stays.
The point is that we are now living in an era where we will witness a new revolution, or evolution is better suited, to our species.
In the next decade we perhaps won’t see someone springing metal claws out from their fists, or watch a battle between an engineered soldier and the Red Skull. But in the years to come we will be witnessing innovative treatments of cancer and AIDS driven by genetic engineering.
Our jaws will drop as we watch a new mass market open of genetically engineered animals and plants. And perhaps it’s a matter of time that one day Earth will be inhabited by a new human species superior to us. They’ll be immune to diseases, have long locks of hair, age quite well, and be quite clever. Or maybe this is just pure Sci-Fi.
In simple terms there are three types of human genetic engineering:
The Somatic Genetic Engineering (GE) targets specific organs and tissue with the goal to treat or cure an existing condition. This method does not alter an individual’s entire genetic makeup.
Want your hair back from your youth? Viola…Somatic Genetic Engineering. Have a genetic disorder like Crohn’s Disease, Huntington Disease, or Hemophilla? Hop on over to your local GE clinic and they’ll fix you right up. Cancer got you down in the dumps…no more to despair- Yup… Somatic GE.
Germline GE targets genes in eggs, sperm, or embryos in the early stages of development. This means that any genetic modifications that takes place affects every cell created afterwards in the developing embryo’s body. Not only this, but unlike with Somatic GE, the changes produced in Germline GE are passed on from future generation to the next generation.
This spells the end to disorders like Autism, Fragile X Syndrome, or Down’s Syndrome. This is welcome news to the thousand-fold of parents who have raised children with these disorders.
Germline genetic modification has already been used with women who have genetic defects preventing them from becoming pregnant. The healthy human egg from a second mother is used. The birthed child has genetic information from two mothers and one father.
Cloning. We’ve all seen Star Wars: Clone Wars and Jurrasic Park. I need say more?
But relax guys, no one is going to be genetically engineering us to sprout out claws from our fist, and we’re not mass producing Captain America. Though, frankly, I wouldn’t mind a market of Chris Evans.
In today’s society we have banned human cloning which is not to say there’s not some morally deprived country or organization working on this endeavor.
We have cloned someone’s favorite pet cat. On December 22, 2001, a kitten named CC made history as the first domestic pet cat to ever be cloned. We’ve successfully cloned an extinct Pyrenean ibex. Fortunately we had saved the animal’s cells in liquid nitrogen, and unfortunately the animal died shortly after being re-risen.
Stem cells are considered the next huge advancement in regards to potential cures of cancers and other incurable diseases. Scientists know they cannot transfer one stem cell to another person without triggering the person’s immune being triggered. However, cloning of one person’s stem cells may be the key.
The future of genetic engineering is here. We can be sure we will not be giving the claw to anyone soon, but who knows.
Maybe we all be donning a Captain American suit someday.
Bryce Bentley Summers is a psychologist who earned his Ph.D. from the University of Houston. He’s presently employed at the Dallas Veteran Affairs Medical Center.
Bryce is also the author of the Young Adult Dark Fantasy (Sci-Fi) series AMEN to ROT, a story that pits young people against a sinister force, but also takes a look at learning what your capable of accomplishing when facing impossible challenges. The novel Nyte God will conclude this series and will be available in 2015.
Be on the look out for a ROTVILLE, a Sci-Fi Thriller (Horror) that will be published by DAMNATION BOOKS and be available in 2015. A story about an experiment gone awry, they wanted to create the perfect soldier, but instead, a hero was born…
Also be on the look out for FRESH MEAT, a Paranormal (Horror with Multicultural & Gay Themes) and is about a sociopathic’s inner journey from evil to salvation.