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Author Topic: Can I enhance my genes to benefit my offspring?  (Read 2564 times)

Offline thedoc

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Can I enhance my genes to benefit my offspring?
« on: 28/07/2013 01:30:02 »
Dylan Williams  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
I have a question, is there a way to change one's own genetic structure to enhance the next generation? If so, could it possibly be created from radiation or radioactivity if a semi-high amount is used?

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 28/07/2013 01:30:02 by _system »


 

Offline RD

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Re: Can I enhance my genes to benefit my offspring?
« Reply #1 on: 28/07/2013 09:54:15 »
... is there a way to change one's own genetic structure to enhance the next generation?

Yes https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_therapy

If so, could it possibly be created from radiation or radioactivity if a semi-high amount is used?

The odds of a random radiation-induced mutation being beneficial* is very very low  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutation

[ * rather than being detrimental or neutral ]

But a beneficial mutation arising from radiation is not impossible , just astronomically unlikely.

[ so best keep away from anything unusually radioactive ]
« Last Edit: 28/07/2013 12:18:41 by RD »
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Can I enhance my genes to benefit my offspring?
« Reply #2 on: 28/07/2013 13:52:03 »
Best bet is to find a mate with appropriately complementary dominant and recessive genes. It's still a lottery but you will be buying tickets near the top of the barrel, whereas mucking about with radiation pretty well guarantees you will lose.

The idea of using viral vectors to eliminate faulty genes has been around for about 40 years but hasn't lived up to expectations in mammals.
 
If you are female and want a near-clone, you may have more success with modifying the implant nucleus.
« Last Edit: 28/07/2013 14:01:04 by alancalverd »
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Can I enhance my genes to benefit my offspring?
« Reply #3 on: 28/07/2013 14:01:31 »
The genes you have are already fairly successful.
Most of them are so good that they are shared by every animal on earth (and about half are shared with the multicellular plants).
It's spectacularly improbable that any accidental mutation would improve it.
On the other hand, the risks of damage from radiation (and other mutagens) are well known.
 

Online evan_au

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Re: Can I enhance my genes to benefit my offspring?
« Reply #4 on: 29/07/2013 10:29:27 »
If you know that you carry a specific severe mutation, it is possible to employ in-vitro fertilisation and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to select an embryo which does not carry this specific mutation. This will enhance the next generation.

However, the technique is expensive, intrusive and stressful, so it should only be considered if the alternative is far worse.

Genetic techniques are developing rapidly, so I expect that the answers will be quite different in 10 or 20 years.

PS: Stay away from excess levels of radiation - it is more likely to create a severe mutation.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Can I enhance my genes to benefit my offspring?
« Reply #5 on: 29/07/2013 11:43:25 »
Certainly  not all "mutations" are bad, and not everyone carries the same compliment of genes.   Perhaps in the future, there will be genetic mutations that lead future man (and woman) to be smarter, faster, taller, having longer life, etc. 

In fact, it is quite likely that most sperm or eggs have a couple of new mutations that occur during meiosis.  Some mutations in the untranslated regions, some in actual genes.  Severe mutations may cause spontaneous abortions or stillbirths. 

Some mutations may be beneficial when heterozygous, but detrimental when homozygous.  For example, heterozygous sickle cell anemia may protect from malaria, while homozygous individuals have significant deficits.  Likewise heterozygous cystic fibrosis may help protect from the plague, while homozygous cystic fibrosis is a devastating disease. 

Anyway, if you are planning on fathering a billion children, while seeking a single gem, then perhaps your idea of forcing extra mutations might work, but if you are only having one or two children, you are much safer to just give Mother Nature all the benefits possible to give you a healthy child...  ie, minimal radiation exposure, a healthy diet for the mother, etc.
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Can I enhance my genes to benefit my offspring?
« Reply #6 on: 29/07/2013 12:06:35 »
....... you are much safer to just give Mother Nature all the benefits possible to give you a healthy child...  ie, minimal radiation exposure, a healthy diet for the mother, etc.

.....remembering, of course, that the largest component of in utero radiation exposure normally comes from the essential potassium in the mother's diet! Some gamma exposure is inevitable and possibly even beneficial to life, but do try to avoid alpha emitters such as (natural) thorium or (artificial) plutonium. These definitely cause defects in mouse embryos and are epidemiologically associated with defects in humans.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Can I enhance my genes to benefit my offspring?
« Reply #7 on: 29/07/2013 19:00:44 »
Incidentally, if you deliberately introduce mutations in your children, be sure to have a really good excuse to give all the ones who were damaged, rather than enhanced.
 

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Re: Can I enhance my genes to benefit my offspring?
« Reply #7 on: 29/07/2013 19:00:44 »

 

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