Tag Archives: new directions for gene therapy

The Genomeplex Crosses Time

Me, December 2007:

10,000 years ago the artificial genome-plex radically expanded its scope, adding plants to its army. Corn, wheat, barley, potatoes — all manner of plant species that could not exist by themselves in the wild — were artificially created from free ancestors.

When Jurassic Park came out, the idea of bringing dinosaurs back to life seemed incredible. I think now it’s just as much a matter of time. Same thing for other extinct animals, and extinct plants.

The genome-plex is preparing to cross time.

What Jurassic fruits taste the sweetest? Which plants eaten by the triceratops would make good raw material for ethanol? I think we’ll live to have a good idea of the answer to these questions.

We live in a world, radically artificial twice over, and we haven’t begun to see what it will hold.

Scientific Blogging, three days ago:

Researchers from the University of Melbourne, Australia, and the University of Texas, USA, have extracted genes from the extinct Tasmanian tiger (thylacine), inserted it into a mouse and observed a biological function – this is a world first for the use of the DNA of an extinct species to induce a functional response in another living organism.

The results, published in the international scientific journal PLoS ONE this week, showed that the thylacine Col2a1 gene has a similar function in developing cartilage and bone development as the Col2a1 gene does in the mouse.

“This is the first time that DNA from an extinct species has been used to induce a functional response in another living organism,” said Dr Andrew Pask, RD Wright Fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Department of Zoology who led the research.

Not only does transtemporal genetic research (DNA science that crosses time) hold upon the promise of giving us our own pet Tasmanian tiger, it can also lead to human benefits in the form of gene therapy. Just consider how much of music aptitude is driven by genes, for example. It is conceivable that some genes that might led to truly great musicians have fallen out of the human genome due to genetic drift or other factors. Now that mere extinction does not limit what genes we can use, we might one day identiy extinct but gifted lineages of men, and some of their DNA into the contemporary population.

(I use music aptitude just as an example. The same could be true for any skill with a substantial genetic component.)