Thursday, July 21, 2016

Why Can't Scientists Keep It Simple

Read an interesting article in Time magazine about a new approach to improving the odds that a human embryo will develop normally.

Thanks to yogurt.

Bear with me now, this gets a little muddy.

According to the article, "dairy scientists were trying to understand why a variety of bacteria that gives yogurt its tang was constantly getting infected by viruses that altered the taste of the product."

They sequenced the genome of the bacteria and kept getting "odd repeated fragments of DNA." They had no idea what these fragments meant until they figured out that this was how the bacteria kept a genetic record of the viruses that had infected them. The bacteria then used this knowledge as a weapon to defeat any virus that attempted to infect it a second time.

Pretty cool, huh?

Now you have something interesting to talk about at work today. Your co-workers will be impressed and band together to suggest you be promoted.

Or they might just jam a Twinkie in your face and stomp on your lunch.

Without getting into all the boring details, scientists made the leap to assuming this knowledge could be used to reduce genetic defects in embryos.

The plan is to inject a specially prepared liquid into an embryo, which will alter the DNA at the cell level, literally re-writing the embryos genetic code.

Sounds absolutely fantastic if it is being used to try to wipe out birth defects or diseases or genetic malfunctions; sounds goddamn frightening if some wanker decides to use it to create Donald Trump clones.

Or even worse - clones of Donald Trump voters.

Although if wiping out genetic malfunctions is the goal there could never be another Trump or any more Trump supporters.

That is not why I am in here today. Here is what fascinates me.

The acronym for the repeated fragments of DNA is CRISPR.

Which stands for "clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats."

Are you kidding me? They couldn't come up with something more simple? Like "birth defect busters", which could be shortened to BDB's.

BDB's sounds cool and so does birth defect busters. They could make a movie about it and then 32 years later create a remake of the movie starring all female leads.

Calling these things clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats would be like calling an automobile "thing that moves when you step on the gas."

That's it. My brain has been fried through all this science. "She blinded me with science." Great song. Sorry, my mind flashed back.

I am out of here.

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