Designer babies - 'eugenics' twentyfirst century style

May 19 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future
Category: Health & Medicine   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Science fiction has been preoccupied with technologies to control the characteristics of our children ever since Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Now, experts say, human eugenics and the dream of creating genetically-engineered superhumans is about to become reality.

As a species we’ve always looked for ways to be faster, stronger, smarter, and live longer. Many enhancements we take for granted today; blood transfusions, vaccinations, and birth control, seemed unnatural or immoral when first introduced. Yet over time we’ve become accustomed to these controls over our minds and bodies, and have used them to better ourselves and our world.

At the turn of the 20th century, eugenics in America took the form of state-mandated sterilization for people with mental retardation, or somehow deemed to be a dreg on the public. Margaret Sanger started Planned Parenthood during this time to help rid society of the genetically unfit. In Nazi Germany during World War II, eugenics took the form of the Holocaust.

Though the idea of creating designer babies goes against much of our bioethical thinking, over the next two decades, says Futurist Magazine writer Eric Swedin, we will see an ever increasing number of humans born with enhanced genetic characteristics.

Some level of eugenics exists today as evidenced when parents wish for a specific gender in their child. More than 2,000 couples have spent $20,000 each for gender-selection treatments offered by pioneer Doctor Jeffrey Steinberg at clinics in Los Angeles and Phoenix. (cont.)

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Cloning lost pets help owners get over their sorrow

June 04 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future
Category: Biotechnology   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

In the Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi film, The 6th Day, grieving pet owners go to a company called RePet to order a clone of their lost animal. Fast-forward to 2008 – science fiction becomes real science. BioArts, a California biotech company, and RNL Bio, a South Korea high-tech firm have both announced success with dog cloning, and are now accepting orders for cloned pets. RNL Bio was the first to clone a dog in 2005 when they created Snuppy, a trained drug-sniffer. Scientists took genetic material from an ear cell of Snuppy’s parent and placed it into an empty egg cell. The egg was then stimulated to begin dividing, implanted into a surrogate mother, and brought to term. Snuppy joins Dolly the sheep and a growing number of rats, pigs, cows, horses, and cats.

BioArts has already created three cloned dogs and is ready to clone five more at $100,000 each. RNL Bio created seven narcotic detection dogs at a total cost of $300,000 and their marketing director Cho Seong-ryul believes that technology improvements could one day lower prices to $50,000 per dog.

Pet cloning is a two-step process. First, gene banking is necessary to freeze and store the pet’s DNA. This includes a tissue-sampling kit priced from $325 to $1,300; plus $20 monthly storage. These services are available from Forever Pets, Lazeron, Cyagra, and Perpetuate. The final step includes the actual cloning. (cont.)

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Genetic Discrimination: Who Will Protect Us?

March 27 2008 / by Venessa Posavec / In association with Future
Category: Business & Work   Year: 2008   Rating: 6

Yesterday we outlined the falling costs of full human genome sequencing, and how it may well hit a magic price point within the next year or two. Now, we’re looking at the implications of mandatory genetic testing by doctors and employers, and what that might mean for insurance and employment.

As clinically available genetic tests become increasingly affordable that brings us to the cusp of the era of personal genomics. It won’t be long before your entire genome can be sequenced for under $1,000, and that service may even get integrated into health care plans. But what happens if the test isn’t optional anymore? There are growing public fears that doctors and employers could enforce testing, and use it as a source of discrimination.

Could poor genetic makeup become grounds for limiting or denying access to insurance or a job? Could we end up living in a Gattaca -like future?

A policy document pushing for federal legislation to protect the public against genetic discrimination was just recently released by the American College of Physicians (ACP). The monograph included six policy positions, which covered the need for uniform state and federal protection, and specific prohibition against genetic testing usage for insurance or employment decisions.

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You have genes, you are not your genes.

June 24 2008 / by Peltaire / In association with Future
Category: Health & Medicine   Year: 2008   Rating: 3

Dr. Dean Ornish says that your genes are not your fate.

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Regenerative Medicine Wipes Out Degenerative Diseases

January 07 2009 / by Adam Cutsinger / In association with Future
Category: Biotechnology   Year: Beyond   Rating: 2

Once nanotechnology, stem cell research, and genetic engineering were able to converge upon the same laboratories it became clear that a wide variety of deadly and debilitative diseases share their origin: damaged or failing tissues, organs and bodily systems.  Some are chronic due to aging, others are more acute, but they have correlated pathologies after all.  The interrelationships between the biggest 20th century killers of humankind became astonishingly clear, as did the road to the regenerative medicine to cure nearly all of them.RespiroVik4.jpg

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