THE TRANSHUMANIST SCRAPBOOK: REGENERATION – AND OTHER THINGS ...April 15, 2014
At one time, rodents -rats and mice - were excoriated by most of humanity for having been the carriers of deadly plagues, but perhaps now humanity may owe a tiny word of thanks to the lowly rodent; scientists have succeeded, for the first time ever, in reversing the aging process in a mammalian organ, and regenerating it:
The method selected here was one of the four GRIN technologies - Genetics, Robotics, Information processing and Nanotechnologies - that are the favored tools in the transhumanist toolbox, and which my co-author Dr Scott D de Hart and I wrote about in our book Transhumanism: A Grimoire of Alchemical Agendas. At this juncture, it becomes rather easy to predict what the next steps in this ongoing technological transformation of culture might be(and a big thank you to Ms. P.H., a regular reader here, for finding this gem):
These two articles, taken together, suggest the next steps in the technological tree leading to genuine rejuvenation and life-prolongation:
- extension of the genetic technique used on the thymus in laboratory animals to other organs, and study of the processes of aging in each;
- extension of the technique to other life forms, including the human, and to veterinary medicine for possible agricultural use (if you were worried about GMOs, folks, think about that one for a moment, and the implications of constructing an artificial chromosome for patent law, and the way this has been exploited by the agribusiness companies);
- preliminary studies on what I have called - in other blogs on this topic - "combinatorial" uses of various technologies, stem cell methods, such as is exhibited in the first article, with nanotechnology, small machines, either organic or inorganic, to perform robotic tasks of cell repair (or, in the inevitable military applications, destruction).
The second article contains a warning however, and it is worth citing it extensively, for the careful reader will detect the dim echoes of the sort of overblown confidence we heard with the appearance of GMO crops:
"In this latest breakthrough, Jef Boeke and his team (including 60 undergrads!) at the New York University Langone Medical Center synthesized one of the 16 chromosomes of a standard brewer's yeast cell. They did so after deleting superfluous genetic material, including repeated sections, "jumping genes," and so-called junk DNA that doesn't code for proteins — portions deemed not necessary for the yeast's everyday survival.
"Importantly, unlike bacteria and viruses, yeast is a microorganism consisting of a single cell — what are called eukaryotes (they have a cell nucleus). This is important because plants and vertebrates have cells like these, including us humans. It's an important proof-of-concept that's most certainly applicable to our genetic constitutions. But it'll be a while yet before this moves to the human sphere as our genome is considerably larger. We have over three billion base pairs, and they're much harder to rebuild.
"But once this happens, we'll be able to use this sort of biotech to do such things as increase human immune function, slow down the effects of aging or even boost our memory and intelligence. They could provide new forms of immunization, protecting against specific diseases like AIDS or certain cancers. And we could also be endowed with new capacities altogether, including the ability to see ultraviolet light, or navigation in the dark by a system of sonar similar to that employed by bats."
We were, at one point, confidently assured that none of the genetic modifications in GMOs could ever "jump species" and show up in organisms that consumed them. After all, when we eat hamburgers, drumsticks, or fillets, we don't turn into cows, chickens, turkeys, or fish... that is, until recently, when "by some unexplained mechanism," it appears that in some cases this has inexplicably happened. Here, we're being reassured that chopping out all that "junk DNA" doesn't really matter, since yeast cells don't really need it. This is an egregious arrogance, the sort of scientism for which science is quickly turning its back on its own principles; just because we don't completely understand why the junk DNA is there, does not mean it's not important, or that it may not perform some vital function we have not yet discovered. I suspect the higher up in the phylogenetic tree of life one goes, the more important this "junk" DNA may in fact become.
In any case, we need to be aware of this new impending technique, and what it's implications are, before the corporations get ahold of it and see us another bill of goods about the harmlessness of their products and the techniques that created them. There needs to be here, as there was not with GMOs, a multitude of genuinely independent and inter-generational tests over a prolonged period of time before such products would ever see the market. I am even bold to suggest that if the time frame for such tests does not make corporate investors squirm and squeal at the prospect that they will not see, in their lifetime, dividends on such research, that the tests are probably a sham, and inadequate.
Sorry boys, but that's the consequence of your own lousy corporate science coming home to roost.
There's more, of course, but that will have to wait for tomorrow.
See you on the flip side.