Tag Archives: regenerative medicine

Genetically Engineering New Forms of Life

Want to know how to alter DNA to genetically engineer new forms of life?  Sounds like a new take on what we did in my thriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH, but it’s actually Newsweek’s cover story. http://www.newsweek.com/2017/07/07/natural-selection-new-forms-life-scientists-altering-dna-629771.html   

Author of the Newsweek article is Bryan Walsh. (Believe in giving credit where credit’s due, and writing this deserves credit!)

Right now I’ve got to run to an appointment; hopefully I’ll be back to make some points. But at least wanted to get this off to you to peruse over the weekend.

And if you time for even more perusing, please do check out my technothriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH.  http://michaelmcgaulley.net/books/sample-remedy/

Should a human-pig chimera be treated as a human?

“Should a human-pig chimera be treated as a human?”–that’s the title of an article I came upon in Aeon.  https://aeon.co/ideas/should-a-human-pig-chimera-be-treated-as-a-person

It’s a variation of a question that I raise early-on in my technothriller,  A REMEDY FOR DEATH. In REMEDY, a researcher tries to implant brain cells from a human fetus into a young chimp. (Not a plot-spoiler: that is only a small part of the story.)

In the Aeon article, the focus is on the pigs that may be used to grow replacement human organs.

“In this case, the scientists take a skin cell from a human and from this make stem cells capable of producing any cell or tissue in the body, known as ‘induced pluripotent stem cells’. They then inject these into a pig embryo to make a human-pig chimera. In order to create the desired organ, they use gene editing, or CRISPR, to knock out the embryo’s pig’s genes that produce, for example, the pancreas. The human stem cells for the pancreas then make an almost entirely human pancreas in the resulting human-pig chimera, with just the blood vessels remaining porcine. Using this controversial technology, a human skin cell, pre-treated and injected into a genetically edited pig embryo, could grow a new liver, heart, pancreas or lung as required.”

So now suppose the human patient has a fresh new pancreas grown in the pig. But, once that pancreas is taken out, what about the pig?  Off to the pork-chop shop?  No! It’s not so simple. “It is not a pig with a human pancreas inserted into it—it is a human-animal chimera . . . This could affect the chimera’s brain.”

In short, maybe, just maybe, that chimera—whether pig or chimp—may have something approaching human brain function or other “characteristics that we usually think of as having moral relevance.”

Seems far-fetched that a pig or a chimp might begin developing human-like brains, but a whole lot of far-fetched stuff  is fast becoming reality in today’s world.

 

FOR MORE on human-animal chimeras and related topics including organ harvesting, growing human body parts, human stem-cells, mice given human brain cells, what is a human?, and others I invite you to check out my blog for A REMEDY FOR DEATH.  http://www.a-remedy-for-death.com/

A REMEDY FOR DEATH: articles on radical life extension, reversing aging, the quest for human immortality, and regenerative medicine

As  my technothriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH, is set in areas including anti-aging methods, bio-engineering, radical life extension, the quest for human immortality,organ regeneration and organ fabrication, regenerative medicine, reversing aging, the quest for eternal youth, and transhumanism, I keep an eye out for articles on these and related topics.

Here are a few of the more intriguing. Normally, I’d like to comment on them and put them into perspective, but the list has grown too quickly recently.  

 

Tech titans’ latest: Project Defy Death. Washington Post, page 1 above the fold, April 5, 2015;

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2015/04/04/tech-titans-latest-project-defy-death/#

Continue reading A REMEDY FOR DEATH: articles on radical life extension, reversing aging, the quest for human immortality, and regenerative medicine

Organ harvesting from aborted human fetuses, medical ethics, and the medical techno-thriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH

The  method used in my medical techno-thriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH, depends on human stem cells from adult donors (Induced Pluripotent Cells—IPS cells) rather than tissue from aborted fetuses–a topic very much in the news recently because of a series of videos.

(Want to know more  about Induced Pluripotent Cells? Here’s a link to a basic Wikipedia overview.)

In case the link doesn’t work, here it is in open form:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induced_pluripotent_stem_cell

 That said, an alternate research strand is very much in the news these days—fetal tissue research using organs from aborted fetuses.

Reasonable people can—and most definitely do, strongly—disagree on the medical ethics not only of abortion but also of “organ harvesting” from the resulting fetus. The fields of bio-engineering, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine are moving very fast, and  medical ethicists are struggling to keep apace.

I expect you’ve heard about—and perhaps watched—the series of videos made by the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group recording interviews with Planned Parenthood staffers, as well as shots of the product of abortions induced in Planned Parenthood  facilities.

In A REMEDY FOR DEATH,   I  raised different but related issues involving bio-engineering, organ harvesting and other issues–different because the plot-line does not involve aborted fetuses. But it does  touch upon some of the same issues of medical ethics and biological research ethics as are raised by these videos and resulting discussions.

For  an informative, balanced article on this issue of using aborted human fetal tissue in research, I suggest Sarah Kliff’s piece in VOX: “The Planned Parenthood controversy over aborted fetus body parts, explained”

That link repeated, in case it didn’t come through:  http://www.vox.com/2015/7/14/8964513/planned-parenthood-aborted-fetuses

A REMEDY FOR DEATH . . . Scientists grow full-sized beating human hearts from stem cells

My bio-science techno-thriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH, focuses on a group of super-rich trying to re-create themselves in “healthy, horny 21-year-old bodies with all our accumulated savvy from this lifetime”.
Seems far out?
Not so, as hardly a week goes by without elements of just-that being announced by science labs around the world.
Articles report in the online London Independent https://www.indy100.com/article/human-heart-grow-stem-cells-science-transplant-medicine-technology-7521166 and  by Alexandra Ossola in Popular Science  http://www.popsci.com/scientists-grow-transplantable-hearts-with-stem-cells   how not only is this a step toward the scheme of the bad-guys in A REMEDY FOR DEATH, but — better for the world– will ultimately produce many more of the replacement hearts needed by those waiting for heart transplants.

The photo here comes from the article in the professional journal Circulation Research, where you can read more  http://circres.ahajournals.org/content/118/1/56