THE GROWING TRANSHUMANIST SCRAPBOOK: GENETIC DISEASE MODELINGJune 16, 2013
This was was shared with me by Ms. P.H. and I have to share it with you, and it's another one to file in the growing transhumanist scrapbook. It seems that Cellular Dynamics International has now expanded is product line:
The Wall Street Journal is, of course, focusing on the obvious latent benefits of this technology:
"CDI's MyCell Products now offer access to a number of disease models, including cardiomyopathies and arrhythmias, vision disorders, neurological disorders, and muscular dystrophies. In addition, the company is actively working on expanding its disease model offering, currently working on additional disease models for neurodegenerative disorders and drug-induced liver injury (DILI).
"Within the MyCell Products line, CDI maintains the iPSC line of each of the disease models, enabling customers to request manufacture of differentiated cells, such as cardiomyocytes, neurons, hepatocytes, and endothelial cells, for their discovery research.
"In addition, CDI has licensed Life Technologies' GeneArt(R) Precision TALs (TALENs) and Sigma's CompoZr(R) ZFN technologies, which act like genomic scissors to cut DNA in a precise location. These nuclease technologies facilitate efficient genomic editing by creating double-stranded breaks in DNA at user-specified locations, stimulating the cell's natural repair process and enabling targeted gene insertions, deletions, or modifications. CDI will use the TALENs and ZFN technologies to perform genetic engineering specified by the customer, for example to introduce or correct a specific mutation, thus creating human disease models and isogenic controls.
This expansion of the MyCell Products line is the next step in our growing disease-in-a-dish portfolio and allows our customers more ready access to diseases of interest from our growing catalog of iPSCs," said Chris Parker, CDI chief commercial officer.(emphasis added)
One can envision from this an emerging genetic-therapy for certain diseases tailored to the specific individual suffering various diseases. And that, of course, is a good thing.
But here, as always, it is possible to indulge in some high octane speculation, one that might, perhaps, warm the heart of some mad Dr. Moreau on an island, or, worse, ensconced in some military biological weapons laboratory, working on the ultimate in biological pathogens, or, as the article so euphemistically puts it, "disease in a dish."
What do I mean? Well, pause and consider for a moment how we've thus far thought of the implications of genetic engineering for biological weapons. The literature and the internet are rife with books and articles about using genetic technologies and genome mapping to pinpoint genes unique to certain population groups within humanity, and then tailoring a biological weapon to target only that particular population and no other. It would have an obvious appeal to eugenicists or, for that matter, bigoted nutcases like a Hitler, anxious to preserve the "purity" of a particular "race" from "contamination" from another "race." Such people always seem to forget, of course, that genetic diversity actually contributes to the overall health of a species, but no matter. Science, for them, is not about a check on their dogmas, but rather, about a technique to create a deceptive fulfillment of those dogmas.
But with the emerging capabilities, it might become possible to imagine the ultimate horror in the assassin's arsenal: a biological weapon designed not to target a specific group, but rather, a specific individual person. Initially, such weapons - sparingly used - would not draw attention to authorities. After all, why track a mysterious illness affecting, seemingly, only a handful of the population, a minute handful so small as not to be statistically significant, a disease not appearing in any physician's handbook of diseases nor any oncologist's lexicon or archive of tissues.
Here, as always, I suspect that the actual capabilities being publicly talked about probably lag behind what has already been done by some Dr. Moreau, on some well-funded black projects "island" in the underground archipelago of black projects skunk works. Perhaps it is time to add to our own growing transhumanist lexicon the idea of "individual-based genetically engineered diseases."
See you on the flip side.