Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Genetic modification

I was thinking about this article I read a while back:

Disclaimer: Keep in mind I'm not doctor, I'm no scientist, I just read articles and observe.

It's a process called RNAi (Ribonucleic acid interference). In essence, it's a nanobot (man-made cell using a polymer and a real human cell), and it sends signals to cancer cells to basically kill themselves off (tested in labs, could potentially cure cancer). Now this works because it actually modifies specific genes (those genes that cause a cell to be cancerous). Now think about what this process is doing. It is "MODIFYING SPECIFIC GENES". Do you know what determines that your a man? Genes say to make XY chromosomes:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XY_sex-determination_system

Now scientists have documented our genome, they've mapped individual's DNA structures, surely they know which switch in our genes causes production of XX or XY chromsomes? What's to say we don't create a few of these nanobot cells that think they are female cells, and you inject this into the body, and it starts telling the rest of your cells "Hey, why are you making male cells? Your supposed to be making female cells!". Well, then it's the game of "they'll tell two friends, and they'll tell two friends, and so on, and so on". It could be possible that your entire body's cells could be flipped to female ones within months, perhaps weeks? Your body would start producing it's own estrogen. Your body would start transforming on it's own (and "in theory" safely) because your body would regulate itself, no need for a doctor to monitor your dosages. "in theory", your body could grow a vagina since we're talking about more than just hormones, we're talking on the chromosome level.

3 comments:

  1. Hey, just thought I'd add my 2 cents. I'm only a scientist in training and not even training to be a geneticist at that but I have some good biological knowledge.

    You could, in theory, change the XY for XX in this method however it, unfortunately, isn't so simple. There aren't male and female cells, as such (although cells in the genitalia and breasts, womb etc. could be seen as gender specific) and the real difference in the physical body apart from genitals etc. is the growth of the body.

    If you have an XX instead of any XY you are merely producing different hormones. Hormones tell things how to grow, so to see a major and not even nearly complete change from male to female (or vice versa) the subject would need to be growing. I suppose it's possible when not growing, but cells don't replicate nearly as fast so, if this were possible, the change at adulthood could take decades to complete and you'd still have a penis and a vagina would grow. Breasts can grow though, as they can with normal HRT.

    This is, however, still a good idea and one that I would never have thought of. By changing the genes that code for the hormones you'd have a more natural HRT system and the hormones you get would be made naturally by yourself. There also would be no danger of side effects that HRT can have (however they're rare anyway) and you wouldn't need to take tablets and whatnot and the change is more gradual. Sadly this method would be incredibly expensive to research and expensive for the subject and the current HRT system is much cheaper so it's not economically viable. Also if you change your mind after having the gene change there's not much you can do about it.

    Still, I like the idea and will be looking around the internet for any advancements on this idea.

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