Scientists: Human-Chimp DNA Hybrids Are Possible?

Dr. Barash’s goal is to convince the world that humans are no different that animals and in particular, monkeys. He thinks it would be good for scientists to use CRISPR and create Chimera ‘Humanzees’. His book’s subtitle says it all: ‘Using science to see our species as it really is.’ ⁃ TN Editor

Our future offspring may be part-human, part-chimp.

At least that’s the nightmarish vision of self-proclaimed expert, David Barash, a professor of psychology emeritus at the University of Washington.

Dr Barash says that not only is the creation of ‘humanzees’ possible using gene editing, but producing such creatures would be a ‘terrific idea’.

He believes it would force humans to acknowledge we are no different to animals and help stop the ‘grotesque abuse’ of the planet’s creatures.

Dr Barash’s remarkable comments – which could lead to a situation resembling Planet of the Apes – were made in his new book titled: ‘Through a glass brightly: Using science to see our species as it really is’.

They follow recent claims by evolutionary psychologist, Gordon Gallup, that a ‘humanzee’ was born in an American lab nearly 100 years ago before being killed by panicked doctors

Dr Gallup claims that humans can be crossbred with other apes and not just chimpanzees. Above is a file image of the 1968 movie Planet Of The Apes showing two members of the species kissing one another

In an extract from his book which appears in the magazine Nautilus, Dr Barash describes the belief that we are discontinuous from the natural world as possibly ‘the most hurtful theologically-driven myth of all times’.

Dr Barash believes CRISPR technology could be used to add or delete targeted genes as desired.

This means it might be possible to make precise edits in DNA and ‘silence’ certain genes that are different between the species.

‘It is unclear whether my own imagined chimphuman will be a hybrid (produced by cross-fertilising human and non-human gametes), or a chimera, created in a laboratory via techniques of genetic manipulation. I’m betting on the latter’, wrote Dr Barash.

Creating a hybrid animal would stop people thinking of themselves as apart from the natural world, Dr Barash argues.

‘Such an individual would not be an exact equal-parts-of-each combination, but would be neither human nor chimp: rather, something in between’, he said.

Creating a hybrid animal would stop people thinking of themselves as apart from the natural world, Dr Barash argues. Pictured is a clip from the 2011 film Rise of the Planet Of The Apes

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transgenic

Transgenic: Chinese Scientists Put Human Gene Into Monkeys

Technocrat scientists view humans as an animal species that is on the same level as monkeys – just containers of atoms and molecules –  so there is no ethical problem with inserting human genes into them. ⁃ TN Editor

Researchers from China and the United States have created transgenic monkeys carrying a human gene that is important for brain development, and the monkeys showed human-like brain development.

Scientists have identified several genes that are linked to primate brain size. MCPH1 is a gene that is expressed during fetal brain development. Mutations in MCPH1 can lead to microcephaly, a developmental disorder characterized by a small brain.

In the study published in the Beijing-based National Science Review, researchers from the Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, the University of North Carolina in the United States and other research institutions reported that they successfully created 11 transgenic rhesus monkeys (eight first-generation and three second-generation) carrying human copies of MCPH1.

According to the research article, brain imaging and tissue section analysis showed an altered pattern of neuron differentiation and a delayed maturation of the neural system, which is similar to the developmental delay (neoteny) in humans.

Neoteny in humans is the retention of juvenile features into adulthood. One key difference between humans and nonhuman primates is that humans require a much longer time to shape their neuro-networks during development, greatly elongating childhood, which is the so-called “neoteny.”

The study also found that the transgenic monkeys exhibited better short-term memory and shorter reaction time compared to wild rhesus monkeys in the control group.

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GMO

GMO Cooking Oil Quietly Arrives In Restaurants

Flipping logic upside-down, the Technocrats at Calyxt state: “At Calyxt, we believe it is unethical NOT to use our technologies to address these issues head-on.” In reality, GMO is not equivalent to traditional plant husbandry. ⁃ TN Editor

Somewhere in the Midwest, a restaurant is frying foods with oil made from gene-edited soybeans. That’s according to the company making the oil, which says it’s the first commercial use of a gene-edited food in the U.S.

Calyxt said it can’t reveal its first customer for competitive reasons, but CEO Jim Blome said the oil is “in use and being eaten.”

The Minnesota-based company is hoping the announcement will encourage the food industry’s interest in the oil, which it says has no trans fats and a longer shelf life than other soybean oils. Whether demand builds remains to be seen, but the oil’s transition into the food supply signals gene editing’s potential to alter foods without the controversy of conventional GMOs, or genetically modified organisms.

Among the other gene-edited crops being explored: Mushrooms that don’t brown, wheat with more fiber, better-producing tomatoes, herbicide-tolerant canola and rice that doesn’t absorb soil pollution as it grows.

Unlike conventional GMOs, which are made by injecting DNA from other organisms, gene editing lets scientists alter traits by snipping out or adding specific genes in a lab. Startups including Calyxt say their crops do not qualify as GMOs because what they’re doing could theoretically be achieved with traditional crossbreeding.

So far, U.S. regulators have agreed and said several gene-edited crops in development do not require special oversight. It’s partly why companies see big potential for gene-edited crops.

“They’ve been spurred on by the regulatory decisions by this administration,” said Greg Jaffe of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health watchdog group.

But given the many ways gene editing can be used, Jaydee Hanson of the Center for Food Safety said regulators should consider the potential implications of each new crop. He cited the example of produce gene-edited to not brown.

“You’ve designed it to sit around longer. Are there problems with that?” he said.

Already, most corn and soy grown in the U.S. are herbicide-tolerant GMOs. Just last week, regulators cleared a hurdle for salmon genetically modified to grow faster. The fish is the first genetically modified animal approved for human consumption in the U.S.

Though regulators say GMOs are safe, health and environmental worries have persisted, and companies will soon have to disclose when products have “bioengineered” ingredients.

Calyxt says its oil does not qualify as a GMO. The oil is made from soybeans with two inactivated genes to produce more heart-healthy fats and no trans fats. The company says the oil also has a longer shelf life, which could reduce costs for food makers or result in longer-lasting products.

Soybean oils took a hit when regulators moved to ban oils with trans fats. Other trans fat-free soybean oils have become available in the years since, but the industry has found it difficult to win back food makers that already switched to different oils, said John Motter, former chair of the United Soybean Board.

Calyxt said the first customer is a company in the Midwest with multiple restaurant and foodservice locations, such as building cafeterias. It said the customer is using it in dressings and sauces and for frying, but didn’t specify if the oil’s benefits are being communicated to diners.

Calyxt is working on other gene-edited crops that it says are faster to develop than conventional GMOs, which require regulatory studies. But Tom Adams, CEO of biotech company Pairwise, said oversight of gene-edited foods could become stricter if public attitude changes.

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CRISPR

CRISPR Scientists Call For Global Moratorium On Heritable Gene Editing

There are non-Technocrats who see that science must be used responsibly., but once Pandora’s Box has been opened, it is impossible to shut. Rogue scientists will continue to ignore the warnings. ⁃ TN Editor

Some of the biggest names in gene editing want to stop anyone from playing around with cells that pass on changes to the next generation.

After the first International Summit on Human Gene Editing in December 2015, a statement was released. The organizers were unanimous in agreeing that the creation of genetically modified children was “irresponsible” unless we knew for sure it was safe.

Well, a fat lot of good that did. As MIT Technology Review revealed in November last year, Chinese scientist He Jiankui edited embryos to create two genetically engineered babies. Other groups are now actively looking to use the technology to enhance humans.

This has prompted some of the biggest names in gene editing (some of whom signed the 2015 statement) to call for a global moratorium on all human germline editing—editing sperm or egg cells so that the changes are hereditary.

In an open letter in Nature this week, major players in CRISPR’s development, including Emmanuelle Charpentier, Eric Lander, and Feng Zhang, have been joined by colleagues from seven different countries to call for a total ban on human germline editing until an international framework has been agreed on how it should be treated. They suggest five years “might be appropriate.” The US National Institutes of Health has also backed the call.

The signatories hope a voluntary global moratorium will stop the next He Jiankui from suddenly springing another unwelcome surprise.

The group says that this moratorium period will allow time to discuss the “technical, scientific, medical, societal, ethical, and moral issues that must be considered” before the technique can be used. Countries that decide to go ahead and allow germline editing should do so only after notifying the public of the plan, engaging in international consultation “about the wisdom of doing so,” and making sure that there is a “broad societal consensus” in the country for starting on that path, they say.

“The world might conclude that the clinical use of germline editing is a line that should not be crossed for any purpose whatsoever,” the group says. “Alternatively, some societies might support genetic correction for cou­ples with no other way to have biologically related children, but draw a line at all forms of genetic enhancement. Or, societies could one day endorse limited or widespread use of enhancement.”

The letter’s signatories suggest that germline research should be allowed so long as there is no intention to implant embryos and produce children. Using CRISPR to treat diseases in non-reproductive somatic cells (where the changes would not be heritable) should also be fine so long as any adults participating have given their informed consent. Genetic enhancement should not be allowed at this time, and no clinical application carried out unless its “long-­term biologi­cal consequences are sufficiently understood—both for individuals and for the human species,” they write.

We still don’t know what the majority of our genes do, so the risks of unintended consequences or so-called off-target effects—good or bad—are huge. The loss of the CCR5 gene that He was targeting to protect children from HIV, for example, has been implicated in increased complications and death from some viral infections.

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China’s CRISPR Twins Might Have Brain-Enhanced Intelligence

The renegade scientist who edited the gene of twin girls said it was for HIV resistance, but now it is learned that the same gene is directly related to enhanced cognition. This may have been the real goal from the beginning. ⁃ TN Editor

New research suggests that a controversial gene-editing experiment to make children resistant to HIV may also have enhanced their ability to learn and form memories.

he brains of two genetically edited girls born in China last year may have been changed in ways that enhance cognition and memory, scientists say.

The twins, called Lulu and Nana, reportedly had their genes modified before birth by a Chinese scientific team using the new editing tool CRISPR. The goal was to make the girls immune to infection by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Now, new research shows that the same alteration introduced into the girls’ DNA, deletion of a gene called CCR5, not only makes mice smarter but also improves human brain recovery after stroke, and could be linked to greater success in school.

“The answer is likely yes, it did affect their brains,” says Alcino J. Silva, a neurobiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, whose lab uncovered a major new role for the CCR5 gene in memory and the brain’s ability to form new connections.

“The simplest interpretation is that those mutations will probably have an impact on cognitive function in the twins,” says Silva. He says the exact effect on the girls’ cognition is impossible to predict, and “that is why it should not be done.”

The Chinese team, led by He Jiankui of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, claimed it used CRISPR to delete CCR5 from human embryos, some of which were later used to create pregnancies. HIV requires the CCR5 gene to enter human blood cells.

The experiment has been widely condemned as irresponsible, and He is under investigation in China. News of the first gene-edited babies also inflamed speculation about whether CRISPR technology could one day be used to create super-intelligent humans, perhaps as part of a biotechnology race between the US and China.

There is no evidence that He actually set out to modify the twins’ intelligence. MIT Technology Review contacted scientists studying the effects of CCR5 on cognition, and they say the Chinese scientist never reached out to them, as he did to others from whom he hoped to get scientific advice or support.

“As far as I know, we never heard from him,” says Miou Zhou, a professor at the Western University of Health Sciences in California.

Although He never consulted the brain researchers, the Chinese scientist was certainly aware of the link between CCR5 and cognition.  It was first shown in 2016 by Zhou and Silva, who found that removing the gene from mice significantly improved their memory. The team had looked at more than 140 different genetic alterations to find which made mice smarter.

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Biodiversity? Scientists Want To Wipe Out Entire Species

This is the Technocrat mindset that science can solve any problem. Problem: Mosquitos make people sick. Solution: Kill all mosquitos. This is a slippery slope that will lead to tampering with other species. ⁃ TN Editor

The villagers of Bana in Burkina Faso survive by working the land. Yet recently they have been paid to sit still for six hours while a fellow villager hovers close by on the look out for mosquitoes. When one lands on their neighbour they catch it, alive and intact, before it bites and then hand it over to researchers.

This is one small stage in a painstakingly slow process of research into the local mosquito population, led by scientists at Imperial College, London.

They hope that one day Burkina Faso will be the testbed for a technology that many hope will lead to the eradication of malaria, the mosquito-borne disease that is the biggest killer of children under five in Africa.

The researchers have developed a genetically-modified mosquito in their laboratory that can kill off its own species by spreading a faulty gene.

If it works in the wild, the technology – called gene drive – could help eliminate malaria where decades of efforts involving bed nets, repellents and insecticides have failed.

But as the scientists edge closer to releasing gene drive mosquitoes into the wild for the first time – by 2024 in Burkina Faso – environmental and human rights groups and others are desperate to slow the process down.

Playing God in this way, they warn, could do infinitely more harm than good.

“Gene drives are a complete unknown,” says Tom Wakeford, UK spokesperson for ETC, a global campaign group monitoring the impact of emerging technologies on biodiversity, agriculture and human rights.

“It’s a huge risk when we know that other approaches [to eradicating malaria] exist,” he adds.

Target Malaria, the name of the Imperial College-led research consortium, is just one of many projects exploring ways to engineer mosquitoes so that they stop spreading disease.

But unlike so-called ‘self-limiting’ genetic modification of mosquitoes – which, for example, renders them infertile or produce infertile offspring – gene drive works by unleashing a mutated gene that spreads rapidly through the species.

Once it is released it can’t be stopped.

“If it works, it will eliminate a whole species,” says Dr Wakeford, a biologist at the University of Exeter.

Target Malaria’s work in Burkina Faso, Mali and Uganda, involves just one of more than 3,000 species of mosquito, the Anopheles gambiae.

But environmentalists warn that removing even one species could disrupt the whole ecosystem in unforeseeable ways. Anopheles gambiae could be an important food source and pollinator without which the flora and fauna where it lives could change dramatically.

“There are agrarian communities [where gene drive research is taking place]. If their crops are affected, that’s their livelihoods, their health, everything,” says Dr Wakeford.

Dr Ify Aniebo, a molecular geneticist from Nigeria, asks what the impact could be on the disease itself. In an article published by campaign group GMwatch he wrote: “Will the engineered organism upset the delicate balance of ecosystems, thereby causing new diseases to emerge or prompting already existing illnesses to spread?”

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CRISPR Gene Editing Toolbox Is Expanding

There is an arms race of sorts as genetic scientists ‘scour the planet’ for alternatives to standard CRISPR technology. As it gathers steam, editing the human genome will prove to be the scourge of humanity. ⁃ TN Editor
The gene-editing tool that has revolutionized biology is becoming even more powerful.

CRISPR, as the system is known, allows scientists to target and snip a specific sequence of letters on a strand of DNA with unprecedented precision. That has opened up new possibilities for treating genetic diseases, helping plants adapt to global warming and even preventing mosquitoes from spreading malaria.

CRISPR is made up of two basic components. The first is a piece of RNA that locates a predetermined sequence of DNA in an organism’s genome that scientists want to alter. The second is a type of protein called an enzyme that attaches itself to the target section of DNA and splices it.

Cas9 has been the workhorse enzyme because it executes a neat, blunt cut. But in the last few years, scientists have started to search for — and find — alternative CRISPR systems that cut with enzymes other than Cas9.

“Cas9 is a powerful tool, but it has limitations,” said CRISPR pioneer Feng Zhang, a bioengineer at MIT and the Broad Institute. “Each of these proteins has shortcomings and strengths, and together they help us create a much more versatile box of tools.”

Some of the new Cas enzymes cut DNA in different ways that make certain edits more likely to work. Other enzymes are smaller, allowing scientists to more easily insert them into cells.

“The diversity of CRISPR proteins is exceptionally broad,” said Benjamin Oakes, an entrepreneurial fellow at the Innovative Genomics Institute, a joint project of the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, San Francisco. “They have been evolving over millennia and nature has developed hundreds, if not thousands, that can work.”

In nature, bacteria use this technology as a defense mechanism to find and destroy attacking viruses.

Bacteria store sequences of viral DNA within their own DNA, bookended by a repeating sequence of letters. Hence the system’s name CRISPR, which stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. (The first CRISPR systems discovered were indeed partly palindromic, however scientists later found that that this is not universally true.)

CRISPR-Cas9 has already proved to be an exceedingly useful tool for a wide variety of genetic tinkering, including turning genes on and off, disabling them entirely, introducing new DNA into a genome, and deleting DNA you don’t want.

But scientists wondered what other CRISPR enzymes might bring to the genetic editing table.

CRISPR-Cas12a was the first system after CRISPR-Cas9 to be used for gene editing in the lab. A recent study on Cas12a’s cousin Cas12b demonstrated that this variant could edit the human genome as well, giving scientists yet another tool to tackle genetic diseases.

Other work has shed light on a suite of additional promising CRISPR enzymes, including Cas13, Cas14 and CasY. The latest candidate, CasX, was described in detail Monday in a study by Oakes and others in the journal Nature.

Comparing CRISPR systems is a bit like comparing fruits, Zhang said. If Cas9 enzymes are apples, then Cas12 enzymes might be plums — still edible and delicious, but also totally different.

And like fruit, these different systems have variations within them. Just like there are subspecies of plums, there is also a wide variety of Cas12 enzymes.

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New U.S. Experiments Aim To Create Gene-Edited Human Embryos

Technocrat scientists at Columbia University are following China’s lead in editing human embryos with CRISPR technology. One lead scientists says, “Right now we are not trying to make babies”, indicating that they fully intend to make GMO babies later ⁃ TN Editor

A scientist in New York is conducting experiments designed to modify DNA in human embryos as a step toward someday preventing inherited diseases, NPR has learned.

For now, the work is confined to a laboratory. But the research, if successful, would mark another step toward turning CRISPR, a powerful form of gene editing, into a tool for medical treatment.

A Chinese scientist sparked international outrage in November when he announced that he had used the same technique to create the world’s first gene-edited human babies. He said his goal was to protect them from infection with HIV, a claim that was criticized because there are safe, effective and far less controversial ways of achieving that goal.

In contrast, Dieter Egli, a developmental biologist at Columbia University, says he is conducting his experiments “for research purposes.” He wants to determine whether CRISPR can safely repair mutations in human embryos to prevent genetic diseases from being passed down for generations.

So far, Egli has stopped any modified embryos from developing beyond one day so he can study them.

“Right now we are not trying to make babies. None of these cells will go into the womb of a person,” he says.

But if the approach is successful, Egli would likely allow edited embryos to develop further to continue his research.

Egli hopes doctors will someday be able edit embryonic human DNA to prevent many congenital illnesses, such as Tay-Sachs diseasecystic fibrosis and Huntington’s disease.

In the lab, Egli is trying to fix one of the genetic defects that cause retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited form of blindness. If it works, the hope is that the approach could help blind people carrying the mutation have genetically related children whose vision is normal.

“Preventing inherited forms of blindness would be wonderful — very important for affected families,” Egli says.

But that is likely to take years of additional research to demonstrate that the technique is both effective and safe.

Nevertheless, even this kind of basic research is controversial.

“This is really disturbing,” says Fyodor Urnov, associate director of the Altius Institute for Biomedical Sciences in Seattle. He worries such experiments could encourage more irresponsible scientists to misuse gene-editing technologies.

“As we’ve learned from the events in China, it is no longer a hypothetical that somebody will just go ahead and go rogue and do something dangerous, reckless, unethical,” Urnov says.

Egli’s research is reviewed in advance and overseen by a panel of other scientists and bioethicists at Columbia.

While the debate over research like Egli’s continues, the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, the World Health Organization and others are trying to develop detailed standards for how scientists should safely and ethically edit human embryos.

Some bioethicists and scientists are calling for an explicit global moratorium on creating any more gene-edited babies. Others, like Urnov, would like to see a hiatus in even basic research.

The U.S. government prohibits the use of federal funding for research involving human embryos. But gene editing of human embryos can be done using private funding. The Food and Drug Administration is barred from considering any studies that would involve using genetically modified human embryos to create a pregnancy. But laws that govern the creation of genetically modified babies vary widely internationally.

Egli is well aware that his work may be controversial to some people. To try to be completely transparent about his experiments, Egli recently invited NPR to his laboratory for an exclusive look at his research.

“We can’t just do the editing and then hope everything goes right and implant that into a womb. That’s not responsible,” Egli says. “We have to first do the basic research studies to see what happens. That’s what we’re doing here.”

To show NPR what he is doing, early one morning Egli pushes open the door of a tiny windowless room on the sixth floor of one of Columbia’s research towers in Upper Manhattan. The lab is jammed with scientific equipment, including two microscopes.

Egli snaps on blue rubber gloves and opens a frosty metal cylinder holding frozen human eggs.

“I’m going to wear gloves because we want to keep things clean,” he tells me.

To begin his experiment, Egli starts the long, slow process of thawing the frozen human eggs that were donated for research. After several hours of careful work and waiting, Egli has readied 15 eggs for his experiment.

After setting up a large microscope, Egli slides a round glass dish under the lens. The dish contains sperm from a blind man who carries the mutation that Egli is trying to fix. It also holds the CRISPR gene-editing tool.

“I’m starting with just one egg,” he says as he gently places the first thawed egg into the dish.

“It’s a beautiful cell,” Egli says, pointing to a magnified image of the egg on a computer monitor. “I would say it’s one of the most beautiful cells.”

Egli maneuvers a tiny glass needle protruding into the side of the microscope dish toward one of the sperm. “So you can see a moving sperm over here,” he says. “Now I’m picking it up. The sperm is in the needle. Now I’m dipping it in the CRISPR tool.”

Once the sperm is inside the needle with the CRISPR gene-editing tool, Egli points the needle’s tip at the egg. “Oh no!” he exclaims with a sigh. “The sperm is swimming away.”

He searches the dish for the errant sperm.

“Oh, here it is,” he says as he pulls the sperm back into the needle.

Next, Egli gently pierces the egg with the needle. “The membrane is broken — breached. There we go,” Egli says as he injects the sperm and CRISPR tool into the egg. He breathes a sigh of relief.

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California Biochemist Sells ‘Gene-Editing Kit’ To The Masses

Technocrat-minded scientists apparently see no problem in spreading gene editing technology to amateurs in order to experiment with nature. Worse, there will be no accountability or oversight. ⁃ TN Editor

After scientists unlocked the secrets of the human genome in 2003, there was immediate concern about how that knowledge might be abused in the wrong hands. Now, an East Bay entrepreneur wants to put that power in everyone’s hands.

Dr. Josiah Zayner has a PhD in biochemistry and worked for NASA, engineering organisms to help astronauts survive on Mars. But that wasn’t innovative enough for the young, self-described “Bio Hacker.”

“Normal scientists want to study, like, how fruit flies have sex or something, something that nobody really cares about,” said Dr. Zayner. “And what I want to study is, how do we make dragons or super-humans or something like that?”

Zayner wants others to do it as well. Out of a West Oakland apartment, he operates a company called The Odin that sells “gene-editing” kits; they come with all that’s necessary to create your own Genetically Modified Organism.

The kit teaches novice scientists how to inject tree frogs with a type of human growth enzyme that causes the frogs to double in size in about a month.

“It sounds ridiculous,” Dr. Zayner said, “but we’ve been doing gene therapy on human beings since the late 90’s, right? The stuff works, we know how to do it, I want to teach people that. I want people to see how it works.”

But at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, biology professor Vidya Chandrasekaran says there are ethical concerns about an untrained person using a live animal for experimentation.

“Using it in this manner, I’m not sure is the right way to approach biology,” she said.

Dr. Zayner frequently uses himself as a guinea pig. He once injected himself with a growth accelerator while live-streaming a talk at a bio conference. Dr. Chandrasekaran said that’s the kind of thing that occurs when people use science without accountability.

“It really matters whether the people who are doing these things understand the implications and the outcome of it,” she said.

But according to Dr. Zayner, new and powerful technologies are always feared at their beginnings. He pointed out that computers were once giant machines used only by business, government and universities.

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Chickens Genetically Modified To Lay Eggs Containing Cancer Drugs

Monsanto delivers pesticides in corn seed and not GMO chickens will deliver cancer drugs through their eggs. The problem? The DNA germline is permanently changed and can never be restored to its original state. Secondly, there is no testing possible to see what affect it will have on humans. ⁃ TN Editor

Scientists have genetically modified chickens to lay eggs containing high quality cancer drugs, in the latest breakthrough.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute believe the technique could offer a cost-effective way of producing drugs in the near future.

The chickens were genetically modified to produce drugs in their eggs, and amazingly, the researchers found that the drugs worked just as well as ones produced using existing methods.

Amazingly, just three eggs were enough to produce an adequate dosage, with hens able to lay up to 300 eggs a year.

Professor Helen Sang said: “We are not yet producing medicines for people, but this study shows that chickens are commercially viable for producing proteins suitable for drug discovery studies and other applications in biotechnology.”

Eggs are already used for growing viruses used as vaccines, such as in the flu jab.

But in this case the chicken’s DNA was encoded with proteins produced as part of the egg white – a human protein called IFNalpha2a, which has powerful anti-viral and anti-cancer effects, and the human and pig versions of a protein called macrophage-CSF.

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