Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A few monkeys short...for now

"Twelve Monkeys" good movie. Bruce Willis time travels to warn Ashton Kutcher, no not that...yeah! To warn that humanity is about to do big stupid science.

Sometimes though, real monkeys are scarier than fictional ones.

They took an egg. They replaced the mitochondrial DNA with some from a different source, did IF procedure and taa-dahh! The world's first ever double mother monkey!
Must've been fun too, cause they went ahead and made three more.

How about that! But as often happens in factory management, what people do is less interesting than why they did it. So why would anybody want to make a double mother monkey? Hmmm.

Oh, says so right here in this month's "Journal of Highly Suspicious Statements." It says, "There are genetic diseases transferred from mother to child via mitochondrial DNA. The technique will allow such mothers to have healthy babies who still retain 99 percent of the mother's genetic identity. This problem affects roughly 650 couples in the US every year. We're pressing for earliest possible FDA approval for human testing."

No kidding? You folks have spent all this money/time/effort on a procedure that will at best have 650 customers per year? Wow! Might there be some other downstream application you're considering? Are you being totally honest?

OOH! Look what it says at the bottom of the article Dave! "Though it can carry diseases, mitochondrial DNA contains little genetic information. Its function is simplistic, serving as fuel source to the nucleus DNA."

How about that! Some people, when they lie they're annoying. Then they start saying what they actually believe and graduate to terrifying.

Now now Dave! What's the deal? You against progress? Humans like to accessorize. If we're going to drive hybrid cars, we'll want hybrid children too, right? What troubles you so?


It's documented, that Ravens can choose the most appropriate from among several available tools, then modify it for best use, through a series of trial & error experiments. I know some humans who can't manage that, but Ravens can do it.

Fifty years ago every Biologist in the world would have sworn on a stack of...Darwin books, such a thing was impossible. For them, the inability of birds to reason was a settled issue. But Science was wrong about the ability of birds. Birds; ubiquitous in numbers and geographic dispersion, available for scientific inquiry.

Now a different bunch of Biologists believe they know everything about mitochondrial DNA, a substance not even discovered fifty years ago.

When you're wrong about Ravens, it's amusing. When you're wrong about human fetal development, it can be tragic.

Let me speculate here. What if mitochondrial DNA too has elusive abilities? What if we're setting up some recessive trait thing here? For instance...maybe we learn, four generations down the road, mitochondrial DNA talks to nucleus DNA to help moderate the emerging immune system of the fetus.

Four generations out, we're not talking 650 babies per year (it's not about 650 babies, period) we're now talking thousands of babies, with either no immune system at all, or ones that are perniciously self-destructive. That because there was an unkown talent in mitochondiral DNA which really relied on mono-matriarchical DNA, and now it's got all bolloxed up, and the recessive consequence steps forward.

Far fetched? Maybe so. I'm sure no geneticist. But I know about unintended consequences, and I know about Ravens.

Most fields of human endeavor, you can't wait until you know everything to proceed. You must forge ahead now. Perhaps to your own destruction, perhaps to yet unknown realms of understanding. There are a few places though, where extreme caution is advised. The cradle would be one of those.

Ladies & gentlemen out in Oregon; I sure can't stop you. I simply advise you sincerely? Keep a sharp eye on your double mother monkeys.

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