So a short while ago, Chinese researchers pulled-off some of the first gene-modifications with that new technique from “BREAKTHROUGH”.
What they did with it is to create a new generation of dogs with a very uncommon trait: Super Muscles.
What it could mean for us one day is another set of radical changes; maybe whether we like it or not…
The Bully Whippet and The Belgian Blue
So far, the only animals we have to match the chinese beagles are an odd type of Whippet, and a weird-looking, hypermuscled cow.
The first one is an accident, the second was bred on purpose. Both lack the gene that limits muscle-growth; myostatin.
And they both grow to be ridiculously yoked-out creatures.
-Which is what the Chinese researchers tried to reproduce in the trials on the 65 gene-edited embryos, resulting in 27 puppies born, 2 of which showed positive-results (Hercules & Tiangou[which pretty much is Chinese for “Super Dog”]).
Going After Muscular-Dystrophy & Beyond
What the researchers want eventually is to find the DNA-switches for problems we face, create test-animal functional-proofs, turn the “solution-switches” back on, & then find a way to use that as a cure later.
Their trial with improving mucles, shows it could start by fixing Muscular Dystrophy, but maybe there’s nothing they can’t find a switch for with new gene-editing tools.
-And some of their colleauges have already been accused of experimenting on Human Embryos as practice for this improved next generation…
Why Wait 1 Generation? I Want It Now!
Just the way vSauce posed the question, why not use gene-therapy via a virus to fix the potential diseases right in the code of a living human being?
You catch a little flu first, then 96 hours later all your health problems are gone.
-If they can get that to work, though.
Gene Therapy: Self-Improvement In a Syringe
And then, with respect to all the nutbar bodybuilders in the audience, why stop there?
If you can fix genetic problems in a person & not wait for the next-gen, can you just turn any sufficiently-motivated juicehead into a Human Bully Whippet just by editing their myostatin genes out with the same virus?
What about turning someone into the same sort of Schwarzenegger of Intelligence or Running Speed, etc. etc. etc.?
Why Didn’t Evolution Do This Already? -And Is There A Good Reason?
Now this of-course raises all kinds of Aaron Cross-like ethical questions about human enhancement, what should or shouldn’t be done, allowed, or why evolution hasn’t already selected for it by now.
Some of it probably came as a set of trade-offs, usually for survival by conserving energy.
The other reasons why probably involve all the other things you’d have to improve if just 1 part is souped-up.
The same way you can’t just upgrade 1 part on a car & have it last, there are probably other things like joints, tendons, bone-structure, that all go into forming a full-spectrum stack or cocktail of changes that complete the picture.
And maybe with our (at least current) abundance of food, some of these changes might even be sustainable.
The Inevitable Arms-Race of Designer-Genetics
And the natural conclusion: Soon-enough, scientists will eventually have in their hands the power for 1-generation,
evolutionary substantial changes in anyone with the risk-tolerance, the money, & perhaps the madness to do it.
Maybe it will eventually become so riskless or commonplace, that the question will be simply a matter of finance.
What happens to the people who can’t afford it? -A new underclass? Will that become just one more example of the “Rich getting richer and the Poor getting poorer”?
It makes you wonder which is eventually wiser: the process of evolution, or mankind and his whims…
Check out the details at the Links:
Photo Credits: “Super Corgi!”, by Nathan Rupert
• Source: TechReview
• More Coverage: Wikipedia-Myostatin | Wikipedia-Belgian Blue Cattle
• Source Study: Generation of gene-target dogs using CRISPR/Cas9 system