Biotechnology that can rewrite the genome heralds “a new era of human biology” and raises ethical questions for the medical community, experts in bioethics, and everybody else, according to a group of prominent researchers writing in Science.
The fuss is over “DNA scissors” discovered in microbes in 2012 that can be adapted to edit genetic material, potentially removing disease-enabling mutations and adding in “corrected” DNA strings. Known by its scientific acronym, the CRISPR-Cas9 protein may eventually help realize precision or individualized medicine, the ability to treat or avoid illness such as cancers, muscular dystrophy, and HIV/AIDS by tinkering with the actual genetic coding that makes a person that particular person.
“The simplicity of the CRISPR-Cas9 system allows any researcher with knowledge of molecular biology to modify genomes,” write the 18 scientists, from institutions that include Caltech, Berkeley, Harvard and Stanford. They are led by Nobel-winning biologist David Baltimore of Caltech.
That’s a complicated, and potentially dangerous, power. The group recommends that scientists avoid human genome-editing experiments, even where they’re legal, and that research and funding sources be transparent. This is the second call to arms in two weeks. An essay last week in Nature called for a moratorium on experiments on human embryos, eggs, or sperm.
Genome engineering has become so powerful that civic leaders and the general public should be brought into the debate, the scientists say. What happens if CRISPR snips out the wrong DNA, or adds in a sequence in the wrong place? If these techniques are ever deemed safe and effective, who would qualify for treatment, and when? The mind reels. When’s the next remake of The Fly? Don’t it make my brown eyes blue?
Newly published research combining genetic, language, and demographic data challenges the idea of a single lineage of languages and human populations evolving out of Africa.1 Instead, the data supports the idea that multiple people groups have independent origins—a condition one would predict if the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel happened as described in the Bible.
Both language traits and genomic variability in populations change as people migrate to new areas. Some populations split off, and others merge. Thus, while languages and DNA sequences are passed along differently, they are inextricably linked. Because of this fact, combining linguistic and genetic analyses is a logical approach to studying the dispersal of people groups across the earth.
A variety of past studies have analyzed genetic diversity in relation to language for isolated regions of the world such as Europe, India, South and Central America, parts of Africa, etc.,1 but none have done this on a global scale. Furthermore, earlier studies have been asymmetrical in their strategies when comparing DNA with languages. In other words, some researchers focused on genetic analysis and then used linguistics to interpret the results, while others analyzed linguistic data in the context of genetics. As a result, little is known about global human demographics as determined by combining both genetics and language analyses.
In this new study, researchers analyzed the largest available datasets of both phonemes (distinct sound units in a language) from 2,082 worldwide languages and genetic profiles from 246 global people groups. The authors of the study stated, “On a global scale, both genetic distance and phonemic distance between populations are significantly correlated with geographic distance,” and “There is a relationship between human dispersal and linguistic variation.”
By Jeffrey Tomkins – Institute For Creation Research –
A model of the mind-brain relationship is developed in which novel biophysical principles in brain function generate a dynamic possessing attributes consistent with consciousness and free-will. The model invokes a fractal link between neurodynamical chaos and quantum uncertainty. Transactional wave collapse allows this link to be utilized predictively by the excitable cell, in a way which bypasses and complements formal computation. The formal unpredictability of the model allows mind to interact upon the brain, the predictivity of consciousness in survival strategies being selected as a trait by organismic evolution.
Recent discoveries by Russian scientists Peter Gariaev and Vladimir Poponin shed tremendous light on our proposal that the human being is a transducer of universal energy and consciousness — essentially a biocomputer. The new feature of this research is the ability to physically demonstrate subtle fields emerging from the quantum foam or vacuum potential. This makes the effect quantifiable and measurable — objective.
This takes the phenomenon and subjectivity of consciousness out of the realm of quantum metaphysics and plants it firmly under the rubric of hard science. It heralds the unification of quantum mechanical and chaotic dynamics in human consciousness. We can now model the human bio-computer.
Poponin boldly suggests that this deeper understanding of the mechanisms underlying subtle energy phenomena include many of the observed alternative healing phenomena and includes a physical theory of consciousness. This hypothesis is based on a precise quantitative background and combines both quantum mechanics and complexity or chaos dynamics in a startling and compelling new way. It posits that some new field structure is being excited from the physical vacuum by an intrinsic ability which emerges through DNA.
His DNA Phantom Effect demonstrates a dynamic new field in the vacuum substructure by bombarding it with coherent laser light and coupling it to conventional electromagnetic fields. The experimental protocols for this proceedure are rigorous, and have been reproduced in Moscow and at Stanford.
….Thus we have mobile self-organizing holograms moving through a relatively static simpler hologram. The possibility exists that such “bioholograms” could achieve sufficient coherence to continue existence as a pattern of radiant energy apart from a material substate. We feel that such an occurrence could form the scientific basis of such psychoenergetic phenomena as psycho-kinesis, clairvoyance, telepathy, and precognition.
By Richard Alan Miller, Iona Miller, and Burt Webb –
Organization for the Advancement of Knowledge –
By Sarah Buhr – TechCrunch.com –
Remember the sci-fi thriller GATTACA? For those who never saw the film and/or eschewed all pop culture in the late 90’s for some reason, it was a popular movie that came out in 1997 about genetically modified human beings. Now some literally genetically modified human babies born that same year are entering their senior year of high school.
The first successful transfer of genetic material for this purpose was published in a U.S. medical journal in 1997 and then later cited in a Human Reproduction publication in 2001. Scientists injected 30 embryos in all with a third person’s genetic material. The children who have been produced by this method actually have extra snippets of mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, from two mothers – meaning these babies technically have three parents.
It’s still unclear whether all 30 babies turned out healthy. The Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science (IRMS) at St Barnabas, participants of the experiment, finally began following up with at least 17 of the now teenagers earlier this year, according to the UK’s Independent. We’ve reached out to IRMS to get those follow up results but have not heard back yet.
While we don’t know the identity of these genetically modified teens, or even how they are doing health wise at this point, the ethics of creating designer humans is still very much a hot button issue…