Designer babies

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Designer babies

Postby Pointerman » Mon Feb 01, 2016 10:18 am

British scientists have been granted permission to genetically modify human embryos by the fertility regulator.

The Francis Crick Institute could begin the controversial experiments as early as March after the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) gave the green light this morning.

The scientists want to deactivate genes in leftover embryos from IVF clinics to see if it hinders development.

It will only be the second time in the world that such a procedure has been undertaken and the first time it has been directly approved by a regulator. A Chinese team carried out similar experiments last year to widespread outcry.

'Understanding the crucial process of embryo development could help us understand causes of infertility, miscarriage and some genetic diseases'
Alastair Kent, Director of Genetic Alliance UK

Currently around 50 per cent of fertilised eggs do not develop properly and experts believe that faulty genetic code could be responsible.

If scientists knew which genes were crucial for healthy cell division, then they could screen out embryos where their DNA was not working properly, potentially preventing miscarriages and aiding fertility.

The initial pilot, which will also have to pass an ethics evaluation, will involve up to 30 embryos and the team would like to work on a further three genes, which could bring the total of to 120.

Critics warn that allowing embryos to be edited opens the door to designer babies and genetically modified humans.

Anne Scanlan of the charity LIFE said: “The HFEA now has the reputation of being the first regulator in the world to approve this uncertain and dangerous technology. It has ignored the warnings of over a hundred scientists worldwide and given permission for a procedure which could have damaging far-reaching implications for human beings."

But lead scientist Dr Kathy Niakan said that the research could fundamentally change our understanding of human biology and give hope to prospective parents.

“We would really like to understand the genes that are needed for an embryo to develop into a healthy baby,” she told a briefing in central London last month.

“Miscarriage and infertility are extremely common but they are not very well understood. We believe that this research could improve our understanding of the very earliest stages of human life.

A strand of DNAHuman embryos could be genetically modified for the first time in Britain this Spring Photo: Alamy

“The reason why I think this is so important is that most human embryos fail to reach the blastocyst stage. Over 50 per cent will fail so this window is absolutely critical.

“If we were to understand the genes, it could really help us improve infertility treatment and provide crucial insights into the causes of miscarriage.”

The team at Francis Crick are already in talks with fertility clinics across the country to use their spare embryos.



Sir Paul Nurse, director of the Crick, said: “I am delighted that the HFEA has approved Dr Niakan’s application. Dr Niakan’s proposed research is important for understanding how a healthy human embryo develops and will enhance our understanding of IVF success rates, by looking at the very earliest stage of human development - one to seven days.”

Currently it is not illegal to edit human embryos for research purposes although it has never been done before because they technology has not been available.

When China announced it had carried out similar experiments last year there was a widespread outcry.

A spokesman for the HFEA said: “Our Licence Committee has approved an application from Dr Kathy Niakan of the Francis Crick Institute to renew her laboratory’s research licence to include gene editing of embryos.

“The committee has added a condition to the licence that no research using gene editing may take place until the research has received research ethics approval.

“As with all embryos used in research, it is illegal to transfer them to a woman for treatment.”

All cells in a human embryo have the same DNA code, but they divide into specialised cells depending on gene expression.

Between day five and seven of human development and embryo has around 200 cells of three different types. One set will go on to form the foetus , while another type becomes the placenta, and the third kind the yolk sac which nourishes growing baby. The aim of the new project is to find out what causes the cells to turn into different kinds, a process known as ‘lineage specification.’

The new genetic editing technique, called Crispr, acts like molecular scissors to snip out part of the DNA code so that scientists can see if it was needed.

A human embryo at three days old The embyos will be edited when they are just a few days old

Dr Niakan said: “If you imagine the genome as volumes in an encyclopaedia, at some point in the development some of the cells will start to read a different volume compared to its neighbour cell. One cell will read a volume slightly differently even though they have the same library.”

'It is the very future of the way in which societies accept persons with disabilities that is at play since such gene editing procedures infer that they should not have been brought into existence'
Dr Calum MacKellar, Director of Research of the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics

“Crispr is so efficient and precise that it can go inside a single volume, open up, a specific page, identify a single word, and alter a single letter,” added Prof Niakan.

The first gene that the team is planning to deactivate is OCT4, which in mice appears to be crucial for the healthy development of foetal cells.

However British scientists were among 150 experts who in November called for a worldwide ban on genetic editing of embryos claiming the practice could open the door to ‘irrevocably altering the human species.’

Dr Calum MacKellar, Director of Research of the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics said: “Allowing the gene editing of embryos opens the road to genetically modifying all the descendants of a person as well as full blown eugenics which was condemned by all civilised societies after the Second World War.”

“It is the very future of the way in which societies accept persons with disabilities that is at play since such gene editing procedures infer that they should not have been brought into existence.”

Gene therapy has been available since the 1970s but it is only recently that scientists have developed technology which can snip out parts of genetic code

The technique could permanently remove harmful mutations which lead to inherited diseases like Huntingdon’s, cystic fibrosis and haemophilia, critics say it could have unexpected side effects any may damage healthy strands of DNA.

Alastair Kent, Director of Genetic Alliance UK, said: "“Understanding the crucial process of embryo development could help us to understand causes of infertility, miscarriage and some genetic diseases.

"The team at the Crick Institute have explained to the HFEA why they would like to use genome editing to investigate embryo development and the HFEA have authorised the research to proceed. We hope that this avenue of research is fruitful, and that genome editing is as powerful a research tool as it currently seems to be."


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/12133410/British-scientists-granted-permission-to-genetically-modify-human-embryos.html

So, they are going to turn off certain genes to see if that hinders development. How are they going to test development without allowing these embryo's to develop then? Am I missing something here?

It would seem to me that to check this, you would have to allow it to develop. I'm probably wrong but this sounds pretty suspicious to me.
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Re: Designer babies

Postby TDG » Mon Feb 01, 2016 1:00 pm

“Miscarriage and infertility are extremely common but they are not very well understood. We believe that this research could improve our understanding of the very earliest stages of human life.


Seems pretty easy to understand to me...

0001_2015.01.21_SoCalFert_AgeFertility_Update.ai_.jpg
0001_2015.01.21_SoCalFert_AgeFertility_Update.ai_.jpg (52.91 KiB) Viewed 2401 times


Paternal age and maternal age are risk factors for miscarriage; results of a multicentre European study

BACKGROUND: It is well known that miscarriage risk increases with age.
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Re: Designer babies

Postby Entreri » Mon Feb 01, 2016 3:30 pm

What's wrong with genetically modifying humans? I'd love to see certain traits and genetic diseases wiped out. I'm sure people who want kids would like to be 100% certain their children would be free of MS, Parkinson's, cystic fibrosis, autism, Lou Gehrig's Disease, and a whole host of other disorders.

Fuck, I'll let them do gene modification on me. Full head of hair, little to no body hair, eliminate the genetic possibilities for cancer and heart disease, give me one of those unstoppable blast furnace metabolism.....I'm sure I could come up with a few other things.

Is there a reasonable objection to genetic modification that doesn't involve a god or gods?

We've already genetically modified about 13% of the American population, thru selective breeding prior to 1865. Why not give the rest of us a chance (just a lot faster and more guaranteed. "We have the technology")?
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Re: Designer babies

Postby Pointerman » Mon Feb 01, 2016 3:39 pm

My main thought on this is that we only mapped out the human genome a few years ago. It seems that this is going on pretty fast and there might be quite a few unintended consequences from these actions.

Would you want a normally healthy child but they ended up looking like Sloth from the Goonies because some lab rat in a white coat thought it would be good to test it out?
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Re: Designer babies

Postby TDG » Mon Feb 01, 2016 4:52 pm

Pointerman wrote:My main thought on this is that we only mapped out the human genome a few years ago. It seems that this is going on pretty fast and there might be quite a few unintended consequences from these actions.

Would you want a normally healthy child but they ended up looking like Sloth from the Goonies because some lab rat in a white coat thought it would be good to test it out?


Yup. It makes me think of the scene in Alien Resurrection where the main protagonist is the 8th or 9th incarnation of Ripley and then she finds the failures...
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Re: Designer babies

Postby Pendragon » Mon Feb 01, 2016 5:00 pm

Entreri wrote:What's wrong with genetically modifying humans? I'd love to see certain traits and genetic diseases wiped out. I'm sure people who want kids would like to be 100% certain their children would be free of MS, Parkinson's, cystic fibrosis, autism, Lou Gehrig's Disease, and a whole host of other disorders.

Fuck, I'll let them do gene modification on me. Full head of hair, little to no body hair, eliminate the genetic possibilities for cancer and heart disease, give me one of those unstoppable blast furnace metabolism.....I'm sure I could come up with a few other things.

Is there a reasonable objection to genetic modification that doesn't involve a god or gods?

We've already genetically modified about 13% of the American population, thru selective breeding prior to 1865. Why not give the rest of us a chance (just a lot faster and more guaranteed. "We have the technology")?


Agreed, but who is going to get these modifications?
Like always I'm sure it's going to be guinipiged by the poor, and bought by the rich.

How can you compete with the cold-immune, disease/age resistant, taller, more muscular ubermenche?
If everyone gets it AWESOME.
Throw in salamander like regenerative abilities and I'll willfully be a lab rat.
If it's just the rich then it might start a very dark war.
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Re: Designer babies

Postby Schattenmann » Tue Feb 02, 2016 12:55 am

First off: I am for this development. I highly doubt they will let embryos with obvious birth defects come to term.

Also to set this straight: splicing and experimenting on an embryo (not yet born) is something different to retroactive therapy (already born, so it will not affect our generation anyway).

What I am wary of are the psychological effects it would have on an uplift:

Consider: you are immune to most genetic diseases, your life expectancy is roughly 100 years. You will very likely be of at least moderate intelligence (this will be the first or second thing they will go after after the diseases/birth defects) - much more likely your pattern recognition and mnemonic ability will be far superior to the baseline human. Very likely you will be cool with 2-4 hours sleep so your productivity is crazy as well.

Tell me if you would even consider the baseliners human at all?

Most likely they will be to you as neanderthals are to us - something we smile at but do not take seriously.

These people will be very unstable, close to full blown psychopaths imo and have to be carefully watched.
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Re: Designer babies

Postby Sharkbait » Tue Feb 02, 2016 9:34 am

Pointerman wrote:Would you want a normally healthy child but they ended up looking like Sloth from the Goonies because some lab rat in a white coat thought it would be good to test it out?


A valid point, but it can easily be reversed to argue the opposite;

Would you want a normally healthy child, but they ended up being a screeching autistic hellbeast because you left it up to Nature?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/artic ... life-.html
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Re: Designer babies

Postby rickrikki » Tue Feb 02, 2016 11:27 pm

The idea of genetic mods makes me tear up at the possibilities of good we could do.

However, let's not get so caught up in what could be that we lose sight of what most likely will be.

I'm not going into another multi-paragraph rant.

It'll likely be for the rich only. There's way too much money in poor, sick people for the industries to give that shit up. What will likely happen is that when it becomes feasible, your babies will be altered with you having no say and more.

Don't forget the reality of the world we live in.
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Re: Designer babies

Postby ManWithAPlan » Wed Feb 03, 2016 12:21 am

Entreri wrote:What's wrong with genetically modifying humans? I'd love to see certain traits and genetic diseases wiped out. I'm sure people who want kids would like to be 100% certain their children would be free of MS, Parkinson's, cystic fibrosis, autism, Lou Gehrig's Disease, and a whole host of other disorders.

Fuck, I'll let them do gene modification on me. Full head of hair, little to no body hair, eliminate the genetic possibilities for cancer and heart disease, give me one of those unstoppable blast furnace metabolism.....I'm sure I could come up with a few other things.

Is there a reasonable objection to genetic modification that doesn't involve a god or gods?

We've already genetically modified about 13% of the American population, thru selective breeding prior to 1865. Why not give the rest of us a chance (just a lot faster and more guaranteed. "We have the technology")?


I think like everything, it's going to go wrong. Like asking "what's wrong with technology"? Well nothing. In fact some crazy tech out there (that already exists) would be awesome. Like your phone tracking your patterns and giving you notifications based on said patterns. Traffic a bit rough and you're heading to work? Well your phone will let you know to leave a bit earlier. Traffic horrible when leaving work? Well your phone will give you a low traffic route home or to the grocery store if you happen to do your groceries that day.

Awesome shit right? Well guess what, no thanks. All the corporations and government entities decided they wanted to put their hands in the cookie jar when it came to all that data. So we can't have awesome things without getting spied on and royally fucked over.

The way I see it, all the rich ass fuckers out there will be spending a fortune to have perfect babies. You think Einstein was smart? These kids are going to out think him by the time they turn 5. Thought Arnold had a great physique? These kids will build bodies like that in their sleep, literally. While your kids are the equivalent of the 1994 Ford Tempo with a fixed muffler, the rich kids will be a 2016 fine tuned Bugatti.

Remember that people in the 40's and later wanted automation more than anything. Well, mansions and homes of the rich are fully automated and have been for over a decade. You can run a hot bath, turn on/off all the lights, watch your security system from thousands of miles away, live, etc. Even the vast majority of the middle class or upper class don't have that.

And don't forget that this can be weaponized. Who's to say that there isn't a gullibility gene or a submissive gene or a loyalty to authority gene? What if some "treatments" for bad genes are made cheap or free, and these freebies are included without your knowledge? Oh, your family has a gene that causes alzheimer's or caner? We'll fix that for you, and include a little extra.

The potential is great, just like modern tech. But it's wasted because of greed, assholes and motherfuckers who want to rule over you.
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Re: Designer babies

Postby Schattenmann » Wed Feb 03, 2016 2:42 pm

ManWithAPlan wrote:And don't forget that this can be weaponized. Who's to say that there isn't a gullibility gene or a submissive gene or a loyalty to authority gene? What if some "treatments" for bad genes are made cheap or free, and these freebies are included without your knowledge? Oh, your family has a gene that causes alzheimer's or caner? We'll fix that for you, and include a little extra.


This is ironically the thing I am worried the least about.

Should they manage to fine tune the brain so much that they can trigger the "docility" gene in people said people will be far to complacent to even notice their plight. They will instead revel in it - in Huxley´s brave new world only the Alphas could even conceptionalize that something was not right.

Consider what is going on right now in Sweden and Germany - only a miniscule %age of men are rebelling against the invaders and even that is just toying with the issue instead of solving it (deporting them).

The overwhelming majority would still elect the same parties and continue their suicidal policies - all without gene treatments just 60+ years of hardcore academic and main stream media brainwashing.
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Re: Designer babies

Postby BeijaFlor » Wed Mar 16, 2016 2:04 pm

Schattenmann wrote:First off: I am for this development. I highly doubt they will let embryos with obvious birth defects come to term.

Also to set this straight: splicing and experimenting on an embryo (not yet born) is something different to retroactive therapy (already born, so it will not affect our generation anyway).

What I am wary of are the psychological effects it would have on an uplift:

Consider: you are immune to most genetic diseases, your life expectancy is roughly 100 years. You will very likely be of at least moderate intelligence (this will be the first or second thing they will go after after the diseases/birth defects) - much more likely your pattern recognition and mnemonic ability will be far superior to the baseline human. Very likely you will be cool with 2-4 hours sleep so your productivity is crazy as well.

Tell me if you would even consider the baseliners human at all?

Most likely they will be to you as neanderthals are to us - something we smile at but do not take seriously.

These people will be very unstable, close to full blown psychopaths imo and have to be carefully watched.


By coincidence, I'm reading Heinlein's Beyond This Horizon ...
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Re: Designer babies

Postby womanhater » Wed Mar 16, 2016 3:04 pm

Entreri wrote:Is there a reasonable objection to genetic modification that doesn't involve a god or gods?


Yes there is. We do not yet fully understand genetics, and therefore cannot for certain know what we're creating or destroying, and therefore cannot know what the outcome will be. Perhaps an unknown byproduct of shutting off the baldness gene when IQ is north of 200 results in a form of murderous psychopathy, or maybe a routine cold virus when incubated in someone with reduced pain receptors and telomerase producing cells will mutate into a pathogen that wipes out all life on Earth.

I'm not necessarily opposed to tweaking the genome, but the profound lack of respect for nature shown by some of those who do so concerns me greatly.
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Re: Designer babies

Postby MrPolityczny » Fri Apr 29, 2016 4:40 am

womanhater wrote:Yes there is. We do not yet fully understand genetics, and therefore cannot for certain know what we're creating or destroying, and therefore cannot know what the outcome will be.


Sure, but do you know what outcome of "natural" changes in our genes will be? This is exactly the same problem...
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