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Genetically Modified Humans Born

michael posted more than 13 years ago | from the dawn-of-homo-superior dept.

Science 294

sh64109 writes: "According to this article that just popped up on the BBC, some children were born recently with modified genes. The modification was made to mitochondrial (not nuclear) DNA so only the girls (if there were any) will be able to pass this on. The purpose of the mod was to correct an infertility problem."

cancel ×


cool...but.. (1)

fjordboy (169716) | more than 13 years ago | (#244896)

That is neat, but when will we have genetically modified children that would be able to fight amazon woman?

however, I think it is really neat that we can use genetic engineering to solve problems like this...It always looked nice on paper, but now that it has actually been accomplished, I bet a lot of more people will have a little more respect for this sort of thing. It would be really nice to prevent diseases and stuff using genetic engineering.

I thought... (1)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 13 years ago | (#244897)

I thought that genetically modified humans were being born all the time. How else do you explain the fact that we're all different?

Except for twins and other freaks.

Dancin Santa

Jumped past Cloning huhh ? (1)

Forge (2456) | more than 13 years ago | (#244898)

Sure Cloning is newer than Gen Mods but it is less dangerus on a small scale.

I.e. The downside of cloning is when you have lots of identical people with many of the same weakneses. A single incorectly modifide subject however can wreck onknown havoc.

I.e. What if there realy is an "evil gean"

Meta-mod babies? (2)

bahtama (252146) | more than 13 years ago | (#244899)

The purpose of the mod was to correct an infertility problem."

I wonder if I can "meta-mod" these babies. I think they have been modded up too much :P


Pretty soon you'll start seeing inquiries like... (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 13 years ago | (#244900)

Is there a website where you can order these? I'd like to have maybe 5-6 of these modified girls done right now so that they can be available to provide entertainment for my retirement party in about 20 years.

I'd like red hair and freckles, perky breast gene set to "on", and hold the fertility.

Oldest story in the book... (5)

weave (48069) | more than 13 years ago | (#244901)

From the article...

"Genetic fingerprint tests on two one-year-old children confirm that they contain a small quantity of additional genes not inherited from either parent."

The truth (tm):

Baby is genetically tested. Genes exist that don't match either parent. Wife, afraid of admitting that she was fucking the plumber, tries to explain it "Our child was genetically manipulated by them scientists."

Sheesh... (5)

the Man in Black (102634) | more than 13 years ago | (#244902) CORRECT an infertility problem. On an overpopulated planet. Great.

Did it ever occur to anyone that perhaps there's a REASON some people are infertile?

I might sound overly harsh, but if this continues, we'll have lots and lots of perfectly healthy, long-lived, incredibly weak and fragile human beings walking this planet.

Let the flames begin.

Those are the first "healthy" children? (3)

ckuijjer (112385) | more than 13 years ago | (#244903)

From the nice quote box on the BBC Page []

[This] is the first case of human germline genetic modification resulting in normal healthy children
St Barnabas Institute for Reproductive Medicine researchers

Does that imply there has been genetic modification resulting in not so healthy children? Just wondering...

Negaitvity (1)

JimboOmega (112678) | more than 13 years ago | (#244904)

Wow, is it just me, or is this article really down on genetic engineering? It seems like it has one paragraph on what was done, then the bulk of it is various people saying why it was bad, how it wouldn't be allowed in the UK, etc. Why isn't there any "This is a great step forward" commentary? Or at least, more explanation of why it was done? To hear the article say it, it sounds as though infertility was a mere excuse to violate the "germline"; but since when is the germline sacred? Personally, though, I'm proud to hear about this; I hope that in the future, we can see more people doing more with genetics to make us all better suited to our environments (which, after all, is radically different from the one we evolved in).

Could be okay, but ...? (4)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#244905)

The children were born following a technique called ooplasmic transfer. This involves taking some of the contents of the donor cell and injecting it into the egg cell of a woman with infertility problems.

So I guess this means that gene splicing, etc was NOT involved. And what they did was to add mitochonria from one person into the cells of another.

Sort of similar to replacing whole chromosomes, though that could be the next step.

Sort of like hacking code by replacing whole sections of code. This should be safe, as far as the children goes.

But the can of worms it opens...

I do not mind it by itself, it is just that I do not know of any agency that I would feel comfortable in trusting with this sort of thing.

That, ultimately, is the problem. Who do you trust?

Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

Thid mod will rock yoh world. (4)

Enonu (129798) | more than 13 years ago | (#244906)

The purpose of the mod was to correct an infertility problem.

I wonder how long until all the quake mod geeks become human mod geeks.

"Our new auto-aim mod for the standard U.S. soldier causes instant and accurate targeting of the enemy ..."

Anyone see GATTACA? (2)

Spagornasm (444846) | more than 13 years ago | (#244907)

This scares me. While on paper I like the idea of rectifying genetic diseases and abnormalities, who is to control this?

Will skin color be considered a "defect?" How about height? In the future how will those who's parents were not wealthy enough to modify their babies have a fair chance in the world?

Watch the second ending to GATTACA on the DVD version. There is a very real possibility of this technology being abused beyond anyone's imagination. It is quite possible that this slope is just too slippery to continue down.

Rogue science (3)

daemonenwind (178848) | more than 13 years ago | (#244908)

Not only can the girls transfer the gene, but if they kiss you they'll steal all your superpowers and suck the caffiene right out of your system.

Darn mutants! Turn 'em all in!!! []

Re:Pretty soon you'll start seeing inquiries like. (2)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 13 years ago | (#244909)

You want fries with that?

Dancin McSanta

What will life be like for them? (3)

SirWhoopass (108232) | more than 13 years ago | (#244910)

Not to go on some Katz-like rant or anything, but...

Can you imagine how much a kid would get picked on in school once the other children learned they were genetically modified? Or even the reaction from adults?

I'm not arguing about this particlar experiment. I have no expertise in genetics. From what I understand, this didn't seem to be some huge step (it's not like they were alterted for more IQ).

I'm just saying in a world that hasn't even overcome racism or religious intolerance [] , these kids could have a hard time.

Re:I thought... (2)

Drone-X (148724) | more than 13 years ago | (#244911)

We normally inherit genes from our biological parents, the term GM is used when the child has genes that don't come from either parent.

How will history remember these critics? (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 13 years ago | (#244912)

These critics will be looked on as niave luddites at best (racist at worst) in a few decades. How will these children feel about being called "wrong in principle"?

On the other hand, will there be a ""* in 20 years?

*Yes, I know they're not clones, but its the same concept.


Re:I thought... (1)

jedwards (135260) | more than 13 years ago | (#244913)

Not to mention evolution ... (-1 flamebait)

On The Subject Of Mods... (1)

increduloidx (409461) | more than 13 years ago | (#244914)

How long will it be until Virtual Hideout has a "Cool Humans" mod section?

The One,
The Only,
--The Kid

if it had to happen (1)

toddler420 (56961) | more than 13 years ago | (#244915)

it was going to happen here (the good old U S of A).
What's next?

"My family has a history of heart disease, doc. Can you fix it? You know, for kids..."

"My family has a history of obesity, doc. Can you fix it? You know, for kids..."

"My family has a history of being ugly, doc. Can you fix it? You know, for kids..."

I guess everything will be alright, since without federal funding, all scientific experimentation will fail utterly anyway. ;)

jedi?? (1)

passion (84900) | more than 13 years ago | (#244916)

The modification was made to mitochondrial DNA

Per Qui-Gon's statements about young Anakin having a high midichlorian count... I wonder if you could genetically modify your own race of jedi warriors...

We don't understand the impact yet. (1)

Beowulfto (169354) | more than 13 years ago | (#244917)

The largest problem with this is that it was undertaken without knowing what will result. If these children reproduce these changes will be passed on to their children.

"There is no evidence that this is a possible valuable treatment for infertility," he added.

So without knowing if it would do any good, someone went ahead and did it. I have always lived by the saying to "look before you leap." I wish others did the same.

What will this do to species diversity? (3)

fhwang (90412) | more than 13 years ago | (#244918)

I don't really know what I think about the ethics of this kind of modification, but in the long term I'd be concerned about diversity of the species.

Imagine a Gattaca-like future 100 years from now, when everybody's DNA is vigorously scrubbed free of defective genes. Maybe people have different skin, hair, or eye color, just for fashion's sake, but internally we all look pretty much the same. Wouldn't this drastically increase the risk of some killer pathogen taking advantage of such a uniform field of hosts?

Nature is sloppy, but it tends to be highly resilient. Human efforts, on the other hand, tend to be much more focused, but also highly brittle.

Sure, it sounds humanitarian... (1)

gimple (152864) | more than 13 years ago | (#244919), but what happens when the genetic modifications are for things such as eye color, or hair color, or racial traits etc. (And don't say we won't do anything as petty as changing someone appearance. We already surgically alter our appearances.)

We are walking right down the eugenics path.

Frankly, this is no better than a Mengele experiment.

Re:Could be okay, but ...? (1)

Lord_Pain (165272) | more than 13 years ago | (#244920)

But what is the long term effects of adding mitochondria? After all in humans having too many or too little chromosomes can lead to Down Syndrome.

It was stated in the article that the children were tested to see if the additions were noticible. What would have happend if a genetic malady of some sort was discovered? Would the researchers just say "Oops! Let's try again."?

Re:Sheesh... (3)

Drone-X (148724) | more than 13 years ago | (#244921)

Did it ever occur to anyone that perhaps there's a REASON some people are infertile?
I've been told it's because of polution, plastic, hot bathes and other stuff. I don't believe it's because we leave on an overpopulated plant.

Stopping infirtile people from having children isn't going to solve anything. If we'd have to be serious about this problem then we should have more general birth control like they have in China. But of course we shouldn't do that in Europe and the US because of the aging population... and because terminating old people is less accepted than abortion.

I might sound overly harsh, but if this continues, we'll have lots and lots of perfectly healthy, long-lived, incredibly weak and fragile human beings walking this planet.
We could of course genetically modify them so they wouldn't be weak and fragile.

Luddites… (3)

(H)elix1 (231155) | more than 13 years ago | (#244922)

Welcome to the next level (in medicine). This is great news for those who have issues that might be fixed on the genetic level. It's all good and fine to argue about what is "normal" hair color, does something have a soul, etc., but if I could avoid taking insulin shots several times a day safely, I would do it in a heartbeat. If I could save my daughter from probably the same fate, I would weigh the risks - but consider it.

That was one of the reasons I went into BioChem as an undergrad.... help change the world. I became a code monkey to feed my family, but my heart is still there.

So they got it right on the first try, eh? (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 13 years ago | (#244923)

Scientists have confirmed that the first genetically altered humans have been born and are healthy.

[Bold emphasis mine.]

Why no announcement of this experiment before the babies were conceived? Why no "Genetically Modified Pregnancy Continues On Schedule" articles? Why no "Genetically Modified Babies Planned. 'Race of Supermen Possible,' Claim Scientists"?

I wonder if the births would have ever been reported at all if the GM humans had not been born healthy? I'm guessing the scientists would only want to bring attention to a successful story, and bury news about a failure so that the media wouldn't crucify them for trying to "play god."

But still, I have to wonder how many times they might have tried this and been unsuccessful?


what's wrong with modifications? (1)

lysie (411443) | more than 13 years ago | (#244924)

The discussions about mucking with the human germline has been around for a while. This report [] is about a major symposium that took place at UCLA back in 1998.

The scientists who argue for human germline modification make some interesting points. For example, they point out that we've already been altering the gene line by simply treating diabetics with insulin--if that diabetic then goes on to have children, we have increased the number of defective genes in the population. Same with cystic fibrosis. And yet, obviously nobody would argue against life-prolonging treatment for the "genetically challenged". So what's wrong with treating the germline for the positive?

One Problem With This (1)

krugdm (322700) | more than 13 years ago | (#244925)

The article itself says that all the functions of mitochondrion are as of yet unknown. Suppose whatever genetic problem was causing the infertility was also linked to a congental disease which was likely to be fatal sometime during the life any offspring. The infertility might be a case of natural selection. The mother, who is carrying the disease, was rendered infertile, thus preventing the passing on of the bad gene, strengthening the species. But science steps in and finds a way to make her fertile anyway. Now her offspring not only are carrying the bad gene, but are now also fertile themselves, ensuring that they can reproduce and pass it on to their children. Shortly after that, they die some horrible death caused by the gene, but it's too late - they've already passed it on. Science and progress are great, but perhaps there are some things we shouldn't be tampering with given what little we probably know.

Let the protests begin! (1)

BigumD (219816) | more than 13 years ago | (#244926)

How long until cannibals start complaining about not eating genetically altered humans?

Not such a good idea.. (2)

antis0c (133550) | more than 13 years ago | (#244927)

Last time I checked, the population of the earth was growing out of control, thanks to medical treatments, etc.. But I really do think we should be focusing on ways to fit more people or earth, or populate the moon or mars or at least something before we work on ways to keep people living longer and having more children.. I'm sure this would be flamebait but hey, its the honest truth.. if we don't figure out something soon it'll be like China all over the world, with everyone sleeping in drawers and showering in the kitchen.

Infertility is hereditary? (1)

bstadil (7110) | more than 13 years ago | (#244928)

Now the old joke has come to pass.

Infertility is NOT a problem. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#244929)

Over population is.
The LAST thing we need is genetically engineered mutants who are MORE likely to reproduce.

Infertility problem? (1)

SendBot (29932) | more than 13 years ago | (#244930)

Perhaps I'm missing something here, but it seems to me that people as a whole have ANY problem reproducing. Now only if they could fix the stupidity problem...

Re:Negaitvity (1)

phossie (118421) | more than 13 years ago | (#244931)

I'm not saying you're wrong, but sometimes progress like this is not a "great step forward." Just something to think about.

The germline might also be important to track relations - similar in reasoning to the usual bans against inbreeding.

The entire issue is questionable, though: you say that you'd like to see more work with genetics to facilitate better adaptation. This is essentially humans trying (or worse, not trying) to anticipate evolution. Again, I'm certainly not saying that no good will come of this experimentation, but you do need to consider the other side. Evolution includes so many variables that we can't even model it yet, not even crudely. A nuclear blast would be like pocket calculator arithmetic compared to this. We can be wrong, and often are; gene research should not be considered lightly. Chances are, the implications are far broader and more meaningful than, say, IBM's new method for producing LCD screens.

I agree that more detail would have been nice, but they did provide enough information to facilitate a more in-depth investigation of your own. I do think you should explore this more; your apparent untempered optimism is a little frightening.

Re:Thid mod will rock yoh world. (3)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 13 years ago | (#244932)

> I wonder how long until all the quake mod geeks become human mod geeks.

Added to my Things To Do List:

Break into the local infertility clinic, grab all the eggs I can get my hands on, and hack the mitochondrial DNA to encode the string "ALL YOUR BASE PAIR ARE BELONG TO US", encoded in ASCII with "G"s as 1s, and "T"s as 0s, then return the eggs to storage.

(Why yes, I do have a long-term plan to confuse the shit out of any anthropologists 2 million years from now ;-)

Cloning is far more dangerous (2)

Edgewize (262271) | more than 13 years ago | (#244933)

If cloning were done by dividing an original cell into two, then yes, it would be fairly safe.

Cloning is usually done by taking cells from a living creature, however, and placing them into a newly-emptied egg cell. This is dangerous like you wouldn't believe, because the DNA of the clone is prematurely aged. The telomeres at the ends of strings are much shorter, and eventually the DNA degenerates and cannot be copied. Cloned animals (including the famous Dolly, IIRC) often exhibit serious problems after only a few years of life.

As for the reduction of diversity, this is only the case for mass cloning. If the population is cloned entirely, thus doubling its size, there is no problem with loss of genetic diversity.

Re:Same tired old argument (1)

Yunzil (181064) | more than 13 years ago | (#244934)

This planet is plenty capable of supporting many times the current population...

The planet might be able to support 30 billion people, but I wouldn't want to live there.

Baby mods (3)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 13 years ago | (#244935)

"The purpose of the mod was to correct an infertility problem."

The mod itself was performed by Kyle of using a dremel tool, artic silver heatsink compound, and ten 180mm high output fans. When asked why he was modding babies, Kyle replied "Modding computer cases was too easy. Now that I have modded babies, I plan to overclock them and see if they can play Quake ]|[ faster than unmodified babies."

Thomas Pabst of stated that "... the modded babies are imperfect, and will need further revisions before we can accurately ascertain performance enhancements."

not just girls (4)

Ubi_NL (313657) | more than 13 years ago | (#244936)

The modification was made to mitochondrial (not nuclear) DNA so only the girls (if there were any) will be able to pass this on.

This is incorrect. Recent (5-10 years ago) it has been shown that mitochondria do migrate from father to child.
How? A sperm cell is basically a protein capsule with DNA in it, and a tail on the back end. However, around this tail there's an enormeous amount of mitochondria present, which create energy for the tail to function.
When an eg is fertilised, the sperm cell head fuses with the egg cell. In a number of occasions this fusion also includes part of the tail, and with the tail these mitochondria.
Even if the amount of mitochondria present is very small compared to those provided by the mother, they can get the upperhand if they are 'fitter' (e.g. multiply faster)
Therefore, genetically modified boys (because the mother can get a boy) can pass on the modified genes. Although in this case no genes were modified, but just recombined.

Re:What will this do to species diversity? (1)

bonius_rex (170357) | more than 13 years ago | (#244937)

This will have no effect on anything.
Any talk of this being unethical, immoral, etc. is pure nonsense.
No genes were modified in any way. They replaced defective mitochondrial DNA with functional mitochondrial DNA from another person. It's still 100% pure, natural, human, mitochondrial DNA. (just like mom used to make :)

This has no more effect on species diversity than using the services of a surrogate(sp?) mother.

Thse kids' Mitochondria will be exactly the same as that of the donor's own natural children.

adopt (2)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 13 years ago | (#244938)

Maybe it's a bit offtopic, but when i read this the next thought came up. What happened to adoption? I still think adopting a child and give him parents is a better solution than adjust the patents and give them children. This will just create more hungry mouths to feed.

Maybe there sould a ethical law that for every child you give life to you should also adopt a child in the 3rd world. Just to geve them a chance also.


Re:What will life be like for them? (2)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 13 years ago | (#244939)

> Can you imagine how much a kid would get picked on in school once the other children learned they were genetically modified?

About the same as the first "test-tube babies". Razzing for a few years, then the bullies move on to razzing people for other things as the technology becomes commonplace.

> I'm just saying in a world that hasn't even overcome racism or religious intolerance, these kids could have a hard time.

Given that these mods are much smaller than the ones that code for race, or the cultural conditioning that codes religion, the kids aren't at any disadvantage.

If we're talking about more interesting mods (say, infrared vision), the correct response is "Yeah? With my hax0red eyes, I can see straight through that bra, and it's padded, Brenda. Want me to tell all the girls in the locker room? By the way, tell your boyfriend to take the sock out of his pants, it's not fooling anyone but you."

Re:What will life be like for them? (1)

evvk (247017) | more than 13 years ago | (#244940)

> Can you imagine how much a kid would get picked on in school once the other children learned they were genetically modified?

I think the opposite scene is much more alarming: being picked on (and worse at everything) because you are not genetically modified to be Perfect and the others are. That is exactly what is alarming about the whole genetic manipulation thing: an unmodified human is no good for anything anymore when we have "superhumans". I do not want such future.

What's the bill? (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 13 years ago | (#244941)

If a tourist can pay 20 million US to go to the international space station, then what's it cost to have genetic mods? Better to know of this out in the open then find out the hard way, that you have become smaller pray.
3 S.E.A.S - Virtual Interaction Configuration (VIC) - VISION OF VISIONS!

compatibility issues... (2)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 13 years ago | (#244942)

So is humanity 1.1b compatible with 1.0? So far they're stable, but they haven't had a lot of uptime thus far to brag about.

Not a good experiment. (1)

azephrahel (193559) | more than 13 years ago | (#244943)

Is there anything moraly wrong with it? No, vague maybe, but not wrong.
This is not moraly vague beacuse its altering genetics, its vague because of very limited knowledge of mitocondrial dna. The bulk of dna research done to date as been concerning cromosonal dna. The effects of altering or swapping mitocondria are incredibly unknown do to very little research in that area. There is still debate in the scientific community as to what exactly mitocondria do.
We konw some of what they do, and some of how they work, but have far from a complete picture of evertying they do, or all of how they work. We don't even know when and where we got them. It's plain that we just dont know enough about them for this to have been a scientific experiment.

Back Doors (2)

Caraig (186934) | more than 13 years ago | (#244944)

Recently, the US government passed regulations saying that genetic experiments will not be conducted on humans. This is most certainly a back door taken advantage of, because technically, the ova is not a human being until it is fertilized by spermatozoa.

I find myself subtly worried about this. On the one hand, it's a good thing if this means an easier, safer, and beter way to improve fertility. This is what medical science is supposed to be doing. On the other hand... it seems a bit early, doesn't it, to start actively messing with genetics?

Now, technically, this wasn't geneering, it was simple injection of mitochondia into ova. (Were they fertilized or unfertilized? I think I missed that in the article if they mentioned it.) This is a good thing! But we really don't know everything that mitochondia EM in a cell. While it's not genetic engineering, it's cellular engineering so early in development that it might have unforseen effects. These kids have mitochondrial DNA that belongs to neither their parents. While I don't think it's unethical, I have to wonder if this really is a path we want to start down at our level of knowledge.

And what the HELL is this "US Government Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee?" When the heck did our government cobble together this? It sounds like the seeds for some sort of genetic regulatory agency. Okay, maybe I'm paranoid, but I don't like it when my governm,ent starts making esoteric and little-known agencies that start issuing legistlation or making any srt of decisions that impact me. The Federalist Society and Trilateral Commission and Council on Foreign Affairs are already plugged into our events too much. Or maybe I've just been playing Deus Ex too much.

Chief Technician, Helpdesk at the End of the World

Re:What will this do to species diversity? (2)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 13 years ago | (#244945)

> Imagine a Gattaca-like future 100 years from now, when everybody's DNA is vigorously scrubbed free of defective genes. Maybe people have different skin, hair, or eye color, just for fashion's sake, but internally we all look pretty much the same. Wouldn't this drastically increase the risk of some killer pathogen taking advantage of such a uniform field of hosts?


But with developments in gene therapy (see the recent developments in stem cell research), we could also fix the problem in situ by introducing genes for resistance.

I'd say that by the time we start productizing this technology, we'll have a large reservoir of "raw" DNA in the form of frozen eggs, sperm, and embryos. If things get bad, we can always introduce the raw strains. Indeed, if things get bad, the market will demand the reintroduction of raw strains.

Re:Could be okay, but ...? (1)

update() (217397) | more than 13 years ago | (#244946)

But what is the long term effects of adding mitochondria? After all in humans having too many or too little chromosomes can lead to Down Syndrome.

Gene and chromosome copy number is much more sensitive and tightly controlled than mitochondria number. I doubt if extra mitochondria have much effect.

Anyway, there probably won't be any long-term issue there because whatever mechanism controls mitochondrial growth should maintain the usual number in the children.

Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

It's not just you. (4)

Spamalamadingdong (323207) | more than 13 years ago | (#244947)

Wow, is it just me, or is this article really down on genetic engineering?
Not only that, but most of the criticisms appeared (to me) to be utterly clueless. There are a number of known mitochondrial diseases, and there's no real difference between transplanting a mitochondrion to fix that and transplanting a kidney to fix kidney failure. If anything, there are fewer issues; we don't have to pay for any drugs to keep the patient from rejecting the mitochondria, and we know that there's no ill effect on the recipient's health (because the donor was living well with the same mitochondria).

It looks to me like the people quoted in this article were trying to score points with the Catholic church; maybe the authors were too.
spam spam spam spam spam spam
No one expects the Spammish Repetition!

Re:Those are the first "healthy" children? (1)

tb3 (313150) | more than 13 years ago | (#244948)

I smell an "X-Files" episode, if Fox can spring to fly Mulder and Skully (the heck with Doggit) to the U.K. to film it. Could be cool.

If they were meant to have kids... (1)

PingXao (153057) | more than 13 years ago | (#244949)

Yikes. Natural selection should be allowed to happen naturally. It's not nice to fool with mother nature.

only the girls (1)

jesser (77961) | more than 13 years ago | (#244950)

only the girls (if there were any) will be able to pass this on

I'd hope that if they've already been born, at least someone knows whether any of them were girls.

Re:How will history remember these critics? (1)

Higher Authority (245970) | more than 13 years ago | (#244951)

No, it's not the same concept. Clones are not genetically altered. That's the point of the clone.

Re:What will life be like for them? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#244952)

So you'd advocate such a superior, inhuman being?

What next? Telepathy? You can bet that us normals would be quickly replaced in the evolution by the unnatural telepaths.

Re:What will life be like for them? (1)

tb3 (313150) | more than 13 years ago | (#244953)

How are they going to know the kids were genetically modified? I don't remember reading anything in the article about barcodes on the backs of their necks.

Re:Not such a good idea.. (1)

Steeltoe (98226) | more than 13 years ago | (#244954)

That is true, but of no concern to the parents involved. In order to "fix" overpopulation, you'd have to fix many of the other human-made problems still growing: birth-control, poverty, famine, war, illiteracy and bad governments. I'm almost inclined to include communism just to troll, but I won't. I'm sure I lost the Usenet argument though I don't mind. ;-)

- Steeltoe

Who says it's the first try? (1)

toddler420 (56961) | more than 13 years ago | (#244955)

Who says that there haven't been 4 gens of previous failures in this "experimental programme"? Since when did any kind of privately funded R&D project make it's findings public without being successful? That sounds like a recipe for tumbling stock prices to me...

Sorry, ma'am, you can't reproduce. We patented... (2)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 13 years ago | (#244956)

Knowing the current trends in IP law, I'm very surprized that the scientists didn't modify the babies so that they would be *unable* to reproduce. Unauthorized reproduction would be a violation of their IP rights, after all.

genetically "modified"? (1)

Negadecimal (78403) | more than 13 years ago | (#244957)

According to the article, the scientists have constructed a zygote that contains mitochondria from a third person. No genes that you wouldn't ordinarily find in the population gene pool. Nothing's been engineered, no super-human mutant children that'll be made fun of at school.

It really bothers me that people keep describing this as a genetic modification. It's no more of a modification than fertilization itself, or less ethical than a kidney transplant (where you also end up with three people's DNA somewhere in your system)

I'm a little unsure as to why they did it though. They imply that the mitochondrial transfer will save the children from having the same infertility genes as their parents. However, the maternal grandmothers would have had the same "bad" mitochondria...and still managed to have children! So the procedure can't be that useful.

Oh no (2)

sharkey (16670) | more than 13 years ago | (#244958)

The baby only has one ass! He's useless to me, I'll have to kill it.


Thou shall not alter thy mitochondria... (5)

Bonker (243350) | more than 13 years ago | (#244959)

Hmm... Nope. I don't see it in the old testament anywhere. There's no evidence that it's unethical. Even despite the fact that these kiddos now have a better (Unfair) chance of having their own kiddos one day, I don't see how it is in any way unethical.

Now 'Stupid' is another matter altogether. Think about it for a second. Haven't the vast majority of gene scientists come forth to agree with the fact that the complexity of the human genome lies not in the number of genes that exist, but in the way they interact?

Who's to say that having an extra set of Mitochondrial DNA won't snafu those interactions somehow? Yeah, it's nice to think "Hey, that's where the problem is, so why don't we replace those parts", but where the hell is the animal testing to see what happens when baby mice and rhesus monkeys have too many Mitochondria? I see no references to the research in the (very sensational) BBC article.

Also, there's the fact of 'Natural Selection' to consider. Something is wrong with those genes if they're not being passed on. Now these kids have a set of 'bad' Mitochondrial DNA along with their 'good' M-DNA. That gets passed on to their kids, and so on. What other problems are lurking in that 'bad' DNA along with infertility? A tendancy toward cancer? Schizophrenic or psychotic behavior? Yeah, it's harsh to say that you can't reproduce because you got damaged genes, but hey, You're genes are damaged! Are you really sure you want to give those to your kids anyway?

There are a *lot* of really good options for people who want kids but can't have them. It is more difficult to adopt than it is to just have a child, but there are millions of homeless children all around the world.

Rather than making it easier for people with bad genes to have children, why don't we concentrate on streamlining the adoption process and make it easier for people to adopt children from underprivaleged nations around the world? Let's have social justice before we start muckign around in the old gene-code there, pals.

How would anyone know? (2)

Spamalamadingdong (323207) | more than 13 years ago | (#244960)

Can you imagine how much a kid would get picked on in school once the other children learned they were genetically modified? Or even the reaction from adults?
You're talking about a test-tube baby here, not some kind of freak. There's nothing abnormal about them; if anything, they are more normal (because of the lack of the mitochondrial disease) than their mothers. Unless you go probing around in their mDNA you are going to have no idea that they are the slightest bit different. I doubt that anyone's going to tell those kids that they inherited anything out of the ordinary, and I'll bet that those parents who live in areas with narrow-minded bigots who'd single them out for something like that are smart enough to keep their mouths shut.
spam spam spam spam spam spam
No one expects the Spammish Repetition!

Re:Oldest story in the book... (4)

myc (105406) | more than 13 years ago | (#244961)

fucking the plumber wouldn't change mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited only maternally.

Gene modification will soon be required of all (1)

dlleigh (313922) | more than 13 years ago | (#244962)

With all of the good medical care technology that we have now, those born with problem genes are not being weeded out by natural selection. We are no longer evolving. Since the problem genes are being passed on to future generatiosn instead of disappearing, the amount of medical care each person needs will rise until either:

1. The total cost becomes prohibitive, medical care is less available and people start dying in greater numbers before they reach breeding age.


2. The problem genes are replaced.

Our choice will be large scale genetic engineering vs. a large scale die off.

Re:Let the protests begin! (1)

Photon Ghoul (14932) | more than 13 years ago | (#244963)

They should at least be labeled. Hmmm, you know you actually brought up a good point - cloning of humans would be the perfect solution for the small food supply of cannibal tribes (in cannibal society does the amount of food constantly decrease?).

Re:Anyone see GATTACA? (2)

mandolin (7248) | more than 13 years ago | (#244964)

Will skin color be considered a "defect?" How about height?

Yes. Bow before your new masters, the transparently-skinned pancake people!

Re:Negaitvity (2)

norton_I (64015) | more than 13 years ago | (#244965)

I think this is a really important as well as scientifically responsible experement.

The fact is, one day we are going to have to come head to head with massive genetic manipulation. Eventually, people with genetic diseases will not accept that their children must be born with the same disease despite the technology to prevent it being available. Whether this is a Good Thing in the long run for the human race as a whole is unclear, and will likely not factor into the debate at all.

In any case, one day this will happen. Slight tinkering with mitochandrial DNA by transplanting whole healthy mitochondria is a relatively low-risk way to gain experience and knowledge about genetic engineering, since it doesn't involve gene splicing or removal of any of the original parents DNA.

Re:Not such a good idea.. (2)

powerlord (28156) | more than 13 years ago | (#244966)

or populate the moon or mars or at least something

I used to agree 100% with you. Get out into space, get more breathing room. Unfortunately somone pointed out, that based on the number of people being born every hour on Earth X amount of people would need to leave for an alternate planet/colony. Net effect is impossible, so the only way to reduce the overpopulation on Earth is by attrition/war.

Oh... BTW... I'm still all for space exploration but more for the resources/tourism/exploration itself than as a method of reducing overpopulation.

Re:Same tired old argument (1)

Rhywun (448885) | more than 13 years ago | (#244967)

The planet might be able to support 30 billion people, but I wouldn't want to live there.

why? you probably wouldn't even notice it. have you travelled across the u.s. and seen how empty it is? sure, some parts of the country and the rest of the world are somewhat crowded - but vast areas of land are virtually empty. but as someone else pointed out, resource distribution would be the main problem. hopefully that will be solved before there are 30 billion people.

Re:not just girls (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#244968)

yep. I never understood why people were surprised when someone proved this in a study. I first read about this misconception in an article that traced the roots of homo sapiens to the African continent by an analysis of mitochondrial DNA and how they were utterly convinced that it was impossible (!) for a sperm's mitochondria to cross over into the egg during fertilization. I mean, how that *not* be apparent? Most have been something like 10 years ago and in every major publication (Scientific American, Nature, etc.).

Clarification on this story (5)

nanojath (265940) | more than 13 years ago | (#244969)

A little clarification might help here:

This has nothing to do with human DNA as in the genome, the double helix we all think of. This is our main source of genetic information and defines the majority of our genetic characteristics.

Mitochondria are organelles (subcellular organisms) which are necessary for our cells to produce energy. Without them we would die. Mitochondria are stand-alone units in our cells. Our cells' DNA cannot produce mitochodria. When we are conceived, there are mitochondria in our mother's egg cell. When the zygote divides, the mitochondria divide too. All the billions of mitochondria in our cells are descended from those which come from our mothers eggs.

Because of the mitochodria's relatively autonomous existence and reproduction, many scientists believe they are actually a seperate life form (something similar to a bacteria, for example) which "moved in" to our cells, creating a symbiotic relationship and resulting in the basis for cellular life on earth.

It appears to me that what these scientists have done is take genetically unaltered, presumably healthy mitochondria out of an individual's cell and implanted them into the egg cell of a mother who's mitochondria are presumably defective. This is not, to my mind, genetic modification, although the resulting children do have some genetic material in their cells that their mothers don't have.

What's causing the ruckus is these are the first children born with modified "germ" cells (i.e. sperm or egg). The changes should change every cell in the body - if succesful they will all contain the healthy donor mitochondria. Ethically I don't see the issue - You can put another person's heart in someone's chest, but not an organelle in an egg? Mitochondria are probably alien to our cells anyway, so to me the ethics of this is a pretty grey area. Anyway, it's a long long way from Gattaca in anything but abstract conception.

Re:What will this do to species diversity? (1)

slowtech (12134) | more than 13 years ago | (#244970)

I think that is really more of a problem for *products* (or what the bio companies think are "products") like plants or farm animals. Biotech companies get the "best" version, and reproduce the heck out of it. Repairing faulty genes is something else. I have a faultly gene (it is a DNA helicase gene, dealing with separating chromosomes during mitosis). It is no fun at all, and can (and has) mess up a whole raft of things. This mutation is not going to be useful to anyone down the road, unless trisomy is somehow adaptive. I would modify my genetic makeup in a second to fix this - it would probably add years to my life. I don't have any biological children (not that stupid), but they would certainly be more adaptive with a proper metabolism than dangerous (and often deadly) mutations.

Re:Gene modification will soon be required of all (2)

Luke (7869) | more than 13 years ago | (#244971)

Exactly the problem!

Our choice will be large scale genetic engineering vs. a large scale die off.

Unfortunately, I think the latter would be more beneficial.

Re:Sheesh... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#244972)

Survival of the fittest doesn't really apply to humans. Those of us that are well educated tend to have small families, those of us that are dim tend to have large families. Assuming the genes that make us dim are inherited its simple to see then that the population of dim folk is increasing while the clever ones is decreasing. Evolution in reverse.
Not sure which group I belong in.

Re:Same tired old argument (1)

GemFire (192853) | more than 13 years ago | (#244973)

No population problem? Tell that to all of the Wildlife that humans are encroaching upon. Tell that to the atmosphere which is suffering from too much carbon dioxide and not enough oxygen.

I guess you are right in a way, though. There's no population problem, just too many humans. Replace some with Siberian Tigers, Giant Pandas, etc and so on - and don't forget to replace a few greedy Brazilians with some foliage for the Amazon Rainforest (where a lot of Earth's oxygen is converted.)

Even the suggestion that Earth can maintain a lot more population is an insult to anybody even mildly interested in the state of the environment. Humans are the WORST thing to ever happen to this planet and I'm including the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs and the effects of the ice age.

Humanity UnCorked? (2)

powerlord (28156) | more than 13 years ago | (#244974)

I believe the Gene-ie is officially out of the bottle.

(apologies to David Weber from whom I first learned the term Gene-ie for a genetically engineered human)

Your argument is as tired... (1)

shario (109443) | more than 13 years ago | (#244975)

Yes, Earth could support 6 billion people if the distribution of resources was all right.

What you do not take into account is that solving this "distribution problem" means leveling the consumption of an average American to the level of "an average human", at least to a quarter of the present, probably much more.

Presently United States accounts for 25 % of world's carbon dioxide emissions while having only less than 5 percent of the population. Additionally, the food consumption should drop even more, not to mention the decrease in living space. And as the population keeps growing, we're having less and less resources per capita left.

So, next time you accuse someone using arguments like "Because we all know, you got here first and you don't want to share." make sure your arguments are not as misguided. We will all need to drop our consumption of fossil fuels, mineral resources etc. to survive, and, IMHO, it would really help to also reduce our fertility.

Re:Same tired old argument (1)

jamesneal (15488) | more than 13 years ago | (#244976)

Riiiiight.. Resource distribution problem.

As long as there are resources for everyone, human beings will continue to multiply until such a time comes that there AREN'T resources for everyone. The same is true of pretty much any creature on this planet. We expand to fill all available spaces.

Not that I'm for population controls, or intentionally limiting resources. I would just prefer it if we humans would plan to strike a balance with the resources available in order to maintain a sustainable growth.

Since most of the energy we as human expend goes towards creating materials that can't (or don't) reuse and recycle, I think the logical conclusion to our brief stay on this planet will be total depletion of usable resources.

It seems to me that if we should be looking for long term replacements for the resources we're consuming.

Re:Infertility is NOT a problem. (1)

Spamuel (246002) | more than 13 years ago | (#244977)

Don't worry about it, mother nature always has a way of keeping things in balance. Unfortunately that will probably mean some sort of plague that wipes out half of the earths population, but hey, no more over population problem, and we can continue to have fun playing god. :)

I can see the spams now (4)

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Yes, it is (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 13 years ago | (#244979)

I'm speaking from a socialogical, not biological, point of view. They're both grouped into the "playing god is wrong" claptrap.

We are gods, just a little unpracticed.


What are we so afraid of? (1)

hakashat (195476) | more than 13 years ago | (#244980)

Maybe I just missed this in the article, but what are we so afraid of that keeps us from exploring these areas of genetics?

I used to think that it was wrong to genetically modify an unborn child, but at the time I hadn't really thought about it. My answer was more of a reaction to the question and the idea that we hadn't done it before, things are working pretty well right now, let's keep things status quo. But by going status quo we don't learn anything, and there is actually a lot of good that can come from digging deeper into genetics. Can we honestly say it would have been better had we not explored space and the planets beyond Earth? Would we even know as much about Earth as we do now?

I once read or heard the idea that every few billion years, there is a kind of rebirth of the Earth and its inhabitants. The key to keeping the species alive is to use the time you have to learn and develop ways to survive the destruction and live to see the next rebirth.

An interesting theory and if true, we need to get beyond the fear of "playing with genetics" if we are to gain enough knowledge to continue our survival.

Finding the limit to experimentation is tough. How far do we go before we go too far? Maybe there is a point in which we start damaging ourselves more than helping. If we don't dig any deeper tho, how will we ever find that point and how long will the human species survive?

Genetic Engineering and Human Evolution (1)

KirTakat (110620) | more than 13 years ago | (#244981)

Me and my friends always get into this argument, they are against genetic engineering, while I am for it (yes, I realize that the article is not talking about true genetic engineering). There are some facts that we need to face as humans, several people mentioned that if we fix all of humanities internal problems, some pathogen could come along and wipe us out, maybe, but you forgot to take something into account. Many people say that genetic engineering is not ethical because it gives peole too much power over their children (and the rich could do it while the poor couldn't). Well folks, I hate to tell you this, but we NEED to do genetic engineering. Slowly but surely the human genetic code is going down the drains, we are introducing and keeping so many genetic imperfections that they are bound to start causing real problems soon. For instance, how many people do you know that need glasses? Or have asthma? Or are just genetically disposed to being over(or under)weight? The problem is, were we creatures living the wild, natural selection would take care of this. In the cave man days if you couldn't see a mammoth to kill it, you were't going to bring food back to the tribe, which meant no one was going to breed with you, and that your genes wouldn't get passed on. Then of course there is attempting to run away from a saber-toothed tiger when you start to have an asthma attack, on obvious difficulty to future breading attempts. Unfortunatly, since we are civilized we can support those people who wouldn't otherwise survive, they breed, and a new generation gets the bad genes. Look around you at how bad things have gotten, 9 out of 10 people that I know wear glasses. While some people (like me) just barely need them, I know of at least 3 people who can NOT function without their glasses. We need these things out of the species, and quickly.

Re:Same tired old argument (1)

Professor J Frink (412307) | more than 13 years ago | (#244982)

There is a population problem, and it's in the places where you least need a lot of people.

States with massive surpluses of food and resources also tend to have low (or possibly enforced low) birth rates. Thus you get large inputs of resources and a small number of people to share them amongst.

Contrast to the so-called developing world where you get less in the way of food production and either fewer resources or resources that are owned by conglomerates combined with massive reproduction rates. This isn't a population problem, you can only support a given number of people on a certain amount. It's the numbers coming into the system.

Look at 'civilised', literate, well educated countries. They have low birth rates. Each child has more oppertunity to learn and has a higher concentration of investment put into them. This isn't just good planning; areas where infant mortality is high and there's a lack of good nutrition and medicine are going to require high birth rates to gaurantee a small number survive.

We have to remember that it isn't too long ago that the countries we consider now to be civilised and developed had their own underclass of civilians, who had large families with the problems involved in supporting and educating them, with the vicious cycle of their offspring ending up in the same low-paid areas their parents did. Not to mention the effect of Catholicism.

There is a population problem, not maybe in the absolute numbers but where they are concentrated. You can provide all the support you want to areas such as africa but until they are able to cut down the birth rate that support will be spread incredibly thin. I don't advocate killing anyone, but drastically reducing the number of new people to feed, educate, house and provide employment for is, in my mind, the hallmark of a developed society (amongst many other things of course outside the scope of this thread).

Re:Could be okay, but ...? (2)

kettch (40676) | more than 13 years ago | (#244983)

Funny you should compare genetic manipulation to coding. It's all ok until someone writes buggy code, and then we have people who pass out because they smelled canned peaches. Or there is some bug that makes them have an unnatural fear that someone will steal all of their ideas and technology, so they become unreasonable psychopaths who hate freedom. (hmmm.. sound familiar?) Our genetic code might not be the most secure stuff, but it fairly stable. (can you keep any of your servers, windows or *nix's, up for 70 years?) What i am trying to say is that humans don't know nearly enough about genetics to be able to safely do this sort of thing with 100 percent reliability. I just hope that they can keep from trying to "fix" other "flaws" before they know enough to keep from collapsing the codebase by accidentally creating some sort of genetic virus or something.

Re:One Problem With This (1)

Chakat (320875) | more than 13 years ago | (#244984)

Two things: First off, suppose the converse is also true, that the mother had a beneficial mutation. Perhaps she had an activated gene that made her immune to AIDS, and the defective mitochondria means that the genetic enhancement dies along with the mother.

Second off, even if there is such a horrible disease that kills shortly after giving birth, it probably isn't going to be passed on for very long. I knew someone back in high school who is a carrier for spina bifida, and she won't have children simply because she knows that she is a carrier for a potentially devestating disease, and she wouldn't want to pass that on to her children. I'd imagine if this disease were to create such defects as you are talking about, the children would decide to either not have children, or the disease would affect them before the get the chance to pass the gene along.

Re:Sheesh... (1)

he-sk (103163) | more than 13 years ago | (#244985)

You really do need to flame someone, now, don't you? While it was obvious that the guy didn't know what he was talking about, it was also pretty clear, that English isn't his native tongue. So instead of giving him the doubt of a simple misunderstandment (?), you just call him ugly and stupid.

Yeah, that's the way!

Let the whining stop (1)

dh003i (203189) | more than 13 years ago | (#244986)

Look, there are all these oh-so self-righteous religious and non-religious zealots talking about how "immoral" it is to genetically engineer human being, or how "immoral" it is to use gene-therapy on people to fix genetic problems: that is their morality. No one else gives a damn. If you do not like the idea of genetically modifying a human being, then DON'T DO IT. But don't tell other people that they have to follow your morality. If someone wants to use genetically alter their gametes to create a genetically altered child, that is THEIR right to do so. If someone wants to use gene therapy to alter their own genes, to alleviate a susceptibility to a certain disease, or for any other reason, that is THEIR right. Simply put: MY body, MY right. Why don't we stop with the over-dramaticization of the issue here -- this is not the end of the world.

Re:Same tired old argument (1)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | more than 13 years ago | (#244987) got here first and you don't want to share. If you're so concerned about overpopulation, why don't you kill yourself and set an example?

Because I put the rights of existing people above the rights of potential future people who don't exist yet.

Don't get me wrong, I want the future to be a nice place, if for no other reason than my son (who actually exists) will be there. Heck, I hope to be there, too. But I don't think we need to go killing off existing people; maybe, just maybe, we should consider limiting our own reproduction instead.

No, it's not easy. My wife wants a bigger family than I do, and it's a source of some tension. But I do think it's irresponsible to have a huge family these days. Understandable but irresponsible.

There is no propulation[sic] problem! There is a resource distribution problem.

Okay, quoting [] , "Approximately 99% of the world food supply is derived from terrestrial ecosystems with the percentage from aquatic systems shrinking (Kendall and Pimentel, 1994). The availability of arable land at world level is less than 0.27 ha per capita, lower than it has ever been in history, and much less than the average of 0.7 ha per capita in the United States (WRI, 1994). Note that 0.5 ha per capita has been suggested as the minimum requirement for a diverse diet of animal and plant food products (Lal, 1989)."

How do we get enough food these days? Fertilizers! How do we make them? Fossil fuels!

We are using up fossil fuels faster than they are being replaced. Obviously, we will run out of them someday. The energy in fossil fuels ultimately comes from the sun. We are using more energy today than actually arrives from the sun. We will run out of fossil fuels eventually.

So what will we do to make the fertilizers to grow the food to feed everyone? If you're so concerned about people of the future, why aren't you working on this mathematically certain problem they will face?

Just remember, the life you abort might have grown up to save yours.

Who said anything about abortion? Unless you think life begins at erection...

I raise my hand (2)

kevin805 (84623) | more than 13 years ago | (#244988)

I want to build my own roads. Or, more correctly, I want building roads to be handled by the market. I don't really have any plans of going out and learning to pour asphalt or anything myself. If we were in early soviet Russia, and having this argument, would you tell me "all you libertarians who want to grow your own food, raise your hands"? Or maybe in modern northern europe, you could say "all you libertarians who want to pay for supporting the church out of your own pocket, raise your hands"?

Imagine, next thing I may be advocating private provision of health care, or of education. Both of which, I might add, are provided much better by the market than by government.

Remember, this is a government by, for, and of the people. The government has no needs. People have needs that are difficult to meet through means other than by government. Don't confuse the means (government) with the end (a free, productive society).

Re:Same tired old argument (1)

Alatar (227876) | more than 13 years ago | (#244989)

You've been reading too many enviro-nut websites. Get out a little more often, maybe try to learn hang-gliding.

Damn mutants (1)

revelation0 (164235) | more than 13 years ago | (#244990)

Now all the school children will just have something else to antagonize this poor little kid for:

Mutant mutant,
we made you in a dish...

Revelations 0:0 - The beginning of the end

Re:Your argument is as tired... (2)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 13 years ago | (#244991)

Why do so many environmentalists hate people so much? I guess people like Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, etc, had the right idea then. they got rid of lots of people.

"Old" does not imply "Wrong". (1)

josu (144992) | more than 13 years ago | (#244992)

There is absolutely a population problem. Saying "If you're so concerned about overpopulation, why don't you kill yourself and set an example?" is immature and inflammatory.

Right now, the current population problem could be solved by solving the resource distribution problem, but that's short-sighted. If population growth continues at its present rate, the planet's in for lots of trouble within the next couple centuries.

There's nothing wrong with procreation, but [intentionally] having more than 2 children is irresponsible.

Changelog? (3)

swingkid (3585) | more than 13 years ago | (#244993)

So will succeeding generations now come with changelogs instead of birth certificates?

Re:Oldest story in the book... (2)

HamNRye (20218) | more than 13 years ago | (#244994)

Maybe a lesbian plumber??? Maybe she's not the real mother and is trying to hide it??

~Ignorance is bliss, and I'm ever so happy.

Genetic Engineering as Weapons of Mass Destruction (1)

Dunkirk (238653) | more than 13 years ago | (#244997)

Does it occur to anyone else that we might be living in a time where a real "Dark Angel" could be made? With all the knowledge that we have about genetics now, it may indeed be possible to make a human being with "better" characteristics than "average." Someone who would be as quick as a mongoose and as strong as a bear? I don't know. The possibilities are endless to speculate about. But then you have to ask yourself that if it *were* possible (and it *will* be someday), wouldn't this kind of technology be just as power-unbalancing as nuclear weapons? Now what 3rd-world dictator with a lot of money can you see trying to get just such capability? A couple spring to my mind right now.
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