As has been reported in the news many times in recent years Gene editing could help treat many diseases like HIV, Muscular Dystrophy and even Cancer and the list goes on. It has it’s controversy too on the ethics of using such science. On a lighter note though CRISPR Gene editing offers the chance to produce real life Dragons as well as even Woolly Mammoths. An Essay has been written in the journal of Bioethics which suggests Dragons and other extraordinary animals could be created.
The essay in The American Journal of Bioethics said spectacular animals could be brought to life using a targeted gene-editing system known as CRISPR-CAS9.
Co-authors Prof Hank T Greely, director of the Centre for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford Law School, and Prof R Alta Charo, Professor of Bioethics and Law at Wisconsin Law School, said their dragon suggestion was “somewhat tongue-in-cheek” but “not impossible”.
“There are the possibilities of spectacles,” they wrote. “Animals and plants not created for personal use but to be exhibited.
“Consider, for example, the dragon. Basic physics will almost certainly combine with biological constraints to prevent the creation of flying or fire-breathing dragons.
- Gene editing could create a Winged Dragon from Komodo Dragons
“But a very large reptile that looks at least somewhat like the European or Asian dragon (perhaps with flappable if not flyable wings) could be someone’s target of opportunity.”
And it may not be as improbable as it seems at first blush.
CRISPR and other similar techniques involve DNA being inserted, replaced, or removed from a genome using artificially engineered nucleases.
The method has been adopted by scientists around the world.
CRISPRs (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) are sections of DNA, while CAS-9 (CRISPR-associated protein 9) is an enzyme.
They are found in bacteria, which use them to disable attacks from viruses.
Debate has raged over whether CRISPR, which occurs as part of a bacterial process, could be safely and ethically used on humans since 2012.
But professors Greely and Charo argue its potential to produce “CRISPR critters” is “likely to be overlooked” by legislators and regulators “because they are unexpected”.
The method is “cheaper and easier” than older forms of genetic engineering and can be done “outside the traditional laboratory setting”.
Their essay looks at the possible uses of CRISPR for de-extinction of wild species – such as 700,000-year-old horses – for domestic de-extinction – such as tomato species – and for making creatures of “personal whim”.
They point out that Harvard geneticist George Church is using CRISPR to edit Asian elephant cell lines to give them some woolly mammoth genes.
Asked about the likelihood of dragons, the co-authors said: “We imagine it would be low although not impossible with respect to appearance (the fire-breathing and flying aspects are undoubtedly beyond any plausible genetic engineering).
“In the US, the determining factor is usually cost as compared to return-on-investment, where cost can be substantial given the regulatory hurdles.
“Does this mean some determined and well-funded geneticist might do this as an artistic experiment, similar to the work done on the fluorescing rabbit?
“Yes. But the operative word is ‘might’.”
A potential process could involve modifications to an existing large reptile – for instance, a Komodo dragon.