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Genetic Engineering in Humans – Curing Diseases and …

Posted: March 9, 2020 at 1:43 pm

Over the past few years, the field of biotechnology has advanced at a very high rate that scientists can now edit plants and animals at the genomic level. Different genetic engineering or genome-editing techniques such aszinc fingernucleases, transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs), meganucleases and theCRISPR/Cas9 system have aided scientists to alter genomes to create modified organisms.

Like in plants and animals, could genome-editing be performed in humans? Yes. But a bigger question arises here, should genome editing techniques be used to create designer babies, to remove heritable diseases or to enhance the human capabilities? It is one of the most controversial topics among scientists and hence it all comes down to ethics.

In a recent research, Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland reported successfully repairing a genetic mutation in human embryos bringing the idea of genetic engineering in humans closer to reality.

To understand the ethical implications of genetic engineering in humans, it is important to first understand the basics.

Genetic engineering is basically manipulating or changing the DNA to alter the organisms appearance in a particular way. The human body cells contain encoded information compiled into a form called genes, which are responsible for the bodys growth, structure and functioning. Human genetic engineering decodes this information and applies it to the welfare of mankind.

For example, all over the world, several scientists have reported the singing in mice. However, the frequencies at which they sing is not audible to humans. The Alstons brown mouse or Alstons singing mouse is a famous example. It would be interesting to hear these songs too.

Japanese geneticists at the University of Osaka were conducting a research to study the mutagenic effects in a strain of mice that were genetically engineered. Among many effects, the mutation may have caused the alteration in the vocalization in the mice giving birth to an offspring which could sing at a frequency audible to humans.This genetic modification (which was actually an accident) may help in studying the communication patterns in mice as well as in comparing of similarities and differences with other mammals. Some other examples of genetic engineering are GloFish, drug-producing chickens, cows that make human-like milk, diesel-producing bacteria, banana vaccines and disease-preventing mosquitoes.

Based on their type of cell, there are two types of genetic engineering;

Human genetic engineering can further be classified into two types;

In human genetic engineering, the genes or the DNA of a person is changed. This can be used to bring about structural changes in human beings. More importantly, it can be used to introduce the genes for certain positive and desirable traits in embryos. Genetic engineering in humans can result in finding a permanent cure for many diseases.

Some people are born with or acquire exceptional qualities. If the genes responsible for these qualities can be identified, they can be introduced in the early embryos. The embryo develops into a baby called Designer baby or customized baby. Human genetic engineering is advancing at an increasing rate and might evolve to such an extent discovering new genes and implanting them into human embryos will be possible.

Let us take an example of bacteria to understand how genetic engineering works. Insulin is aprotein produced in the pancreasthat helps in the regulation of the sugar levels in our blood. People with type 1diabetes eithercannot produce insulin or produce insufficient insulin in the body. They have to acquire insulin from external sources to control their blood sugar levels. In 1982, Genetic engineering was used to produce a type of insulin which is similar to the human insulin, called the Humulin frombacteria which was then approved and licensed for human use.

Using this process, Chinese scientists have edited the genome of the human embryo for the first time. According to Nature News report, Researchers at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, were partially successful in using a genetic engineering technique to modify a gene in non-viable human embryos which was responsible for the fatal blood disorder.

The technique used, called CRISPR (short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) technology involves an enzyme complex known as CRISPR/Cas9, originating in bacteria as a defence system. CRISPR is a short, repeated DNA sequence that matches the genetic sequence of interest to be modified by the researchers. CRISPR works along with the Cas9 enzyme that acts like molecular scissors and cuts the DNA at a specific site.

As explained by John Reidhaar-Olson, a biochemist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York First, in a simple explanation, the CRISPR/Cas9 complex navigates through the cells DNA, searching for the sequence that matches the CRISPR and binds to the sequence once found. The Cas9 then cuts the DNA which, in this case, is repaired by inserting a piece of DNA desired by the researcher.

Since 2013, CRISPR system has been to edit genes in adult human cells and animal embryos but for the first time has been used for modification in human embryos.

Junjiu Huang, a genetics researcher at Sun Yat-sen University, injected the CRISPR/Cas9 complex into human embryos with the aim of repairing a gene responsible for Beta thalassaemia which is a fatal blood disorder that reduces the production of haemoglobin. The non-viable embryos were obtained from local fertility clinics. These embryos would have been unable to survive independently after birth or develop properly as they had been fertilized by two sperms. The procedure was performed on 86 embryos and gene editing was allowed to take place in four days. Out of 86, 71 of the embryos survived and 54 of them were tested.

Splicing (removal of introns and joining of exonsineukaryotic mRNA) only occurred in 28 embryos successfully indicating the removal of faulty gene and the incorporation of the healthy gene in its place. However, in order for the technique to be used in viable human embryos, the success rate would need to be closer to 100%.

While partial success was achieved, certain worrisome mutations responsible for the detrimental effect on cells during gene-editing were also observed and at a much higher rate in mouse embryos or adult human cells undergoing the same procedure.

One of the most beneficial applications of genetic engineering is gene therapy. Gene therapy is one of the most important benefits of human genetic engineering. Over the last few years, gene therapy has successfully treated certain heart diseases. Driven by this success, researchers are working to find cures for all the genetic diseases. This will eventually lead to a healthier and more evolved human race.Inspired by the recent success of gene therapy trialsin human children and infants, researchers are now moving towards the treatment of genetic disorders before birth. The idea of using fetal gene therapy to treat genetic disorders that cant be treated after birth has generated hype among some of the scientists. Parents will be able to look forward to a healthy baby. Genetic engineering can be done in embryos prior to implantation into the mother.However, some are also questioning the feasibility and practicality of the therapy in humans.

While genetic engineering or modification may seem easy to cure diseases, it may produce certain side effects. While focusing on and treating one defect, there is a possibility it may cause another. A cell is responsible for various functions in the body and manipulating its genes without any counter effect or side effect may not be that easy.

Other than side effects, Cloning, for instance, can lead to an ethical disturbance among the humans risking the individuality and the diversity of human beings. Ironically, man will become just another man-made thing!

Among the social aspects of human genetic engineering, it can impose a heavy financial burden on the society, which may cause a rift between the rich and the poor in the society. Its feasibility and most importantly its affordability will also be a determinant of its popularity.

Human genetic engineering is a widely and rapidly advancing field. It can lead to miracles. But when assessing its benefits, its threats need to be assessed carefully too. Human genetic engineering can be beneficial to human beings and its potential advantages can come into reality only if it is handled with responsibility.

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Human Genetic Engineering –

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Human Genetic Engineering - A Hot Issue!Human genetic engineering is a hot topic in the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government. Time will tell how committed the United States will be regarding the absolute ban on human cloning.

Human Genetic Engineering - Position of the U.S. GovernmentHuman genetic engineering has made its way to Capitol Hill. On July 31, 2001, the House of Representatives passed a bill which would ban human cloning, not only for reproduction, but for medical research purposes as well. The Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001, sponsored by Rep. Weldon (R-fL) and co-sponsored by over 100 Representatives, passed by a bipartisan vote of 265-to-162. The Act makes it unlawful to: "1) perform or attempt to perform human cloning, 2) participate in an attempt to perform cloning, or 3) ship or receive the product of human cloning for any purpose." The Act also imposes penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment and no less than $1,000,000 for breaking the law. The same bill, sponsored by Sen. Brownback (R-kS), is currently being debated in the Senate.

The White House also opposes "any and all attempts to clone a human being; [they] oppose the use of human somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning techniques either to assist human reproduction or to develop cell or tissue-based therapies."

Human Genetic Engineering - The ProblemsThere are many arguments against human genetic engineering, including the established safety issues, the loss of identity and individuality, and human diversity. With therapeutic cloning, not only do the above issues apply, but you add all the moral and religious issues related to the willful killing of human embryos. Maybe the greatest concern of all is that man would become simply another man-made thing. As with any other man-made thing, the designer "stands above [its design], not as an equal but as a superior, transcending it by his will and creative prowess." The cloned child will be dehumanized. (See, Leon Kass, Preventing a Brave New World: Why we should ban human cloning now, New Republic Online, May 21, 2001.)

Human Genetic Engineering - A Final ThoughtHuman genetic engineering leads to man usurping God as the almighty creator and designer of life. No longer will a child be considered a blessing from God, but rather, a product manufactured by a scientist. Man will be a created being of man. However, man was always intended to be a created being of God, in His absolute love, wisdom and glory.

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Human Genetic Engineering -

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Human Genetic Engineering Probe Ministries

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Although much has occurred in this field since this article was written in 2000, the questions addressed by Dr. Bohlin are still timely and relevant. Is manipulating our genetic code simply a tool or does it deal with deeper issues? Dealing with genetic engineering must be done within the context of the broader ethical and theological issues involved. In the article, Dr. Bohlin provides an excellent summary driven from his biblical worldview perspective.

Genetic technology harbors the potential to change the human species forever. The soon to be completed Human Genome Project will empower genetic scientists with a human biological instruction book. The genes in all our cells contain the code for proteins that provide the structure and function to all our tissues and organs. Knowing this complete code will open new horizons for treating and perhaps curing diseases that have remained mysteries for millennia. But along with the commendable and compassionate use of genetic technology comes the specter of both shadowy purposes and malevolent aims.

For some, the potential for misuse is reason enough for closing the door completelythe benefits just arent worth the risks. In this article, Id like to explore the application of genetic technology to human beings and apply biblical wisdom to the eventual ethical quagmires that are not very far away. In this section well investigate the various ways humans can be engineered.

Since we have introduced foreign genes into the embryos of mice, cows, sheep, and pigs for years, theres no technological reason to suggest that it cant be done in humans too. Currently, there are two ways of pursuing gene transfer. One is simply to attempt to alleviate the symptoms of a genetic disease. This entails gene therapy, attempting to transfer the normal gene into only those tissues most affected by the disease. For instance, bronchial infections are the major cause of early death for patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). The lungs of CF patients produce thick mucus that provides a great growth medium for bacteria and viruses. If the normal gene can be inserted in to the cells of the lungs, perhaps both the quality and quantity of their life can be enhanced. But this is not a complete cure and they will still pass the CF gene on to their children.

In order to cure a genetic illness, the defective gene must be replaced throughout the body. If the genetic defect is detected in an early embryo, its possible to add the gene at this stage, allowing the normal gene to be present in all tissues including reproductive tissues. This technique has been used to add foreign genes to mice, sheep, pigs, and cows.

However, at present, no laboratory is known to be attempting this well-developed technology in humans. Princeton molecular biologist Lee Silver offers two reasons.{1} First, even in animals, it only works 50% of the time. Second, even when successful, about 5% of the time, the new gene gets placed in the middle of an existing gene, creating a new mutation. Currently these odds are not acceptable to scientists and especially potential clients hoping for genetic engineering of their offspring. But these are only problems of technique. Its reasonable to assume that these difficulties can be overcome with further research.

The primary use for human genetic engineering concerns the curing of genetic disease. But even this should be approached cautiously. Certainly within a Christian worldview, relieving suffering wherever possible is to walk in Jesus footsteps. But what diseases? How far should our ability to interfere in life be allowed to go? So far gene therapy is primarily tested for debilitating and ultimately fatal diseases such as cystic fibrosis.

The first gene therapy trial in humans corrected a life-threatening immune disorder in a two-year-old girl who, now ten years later, is doing well. The gene therapy required dozens of applications but has saved the family from a $60,000 per year bill for necessary drug treatment without the gene therapy.{2} Recently, sixteen heart disease patients, who were literally waiting for death, received a solution containing copies of a gene that triggers blood vessel growth by injection straight into the heart. By growing new blood vessels around clogged arteries, all sixteen showed improvement and six were completely relieved of pain.

In each of these cases, gene therapy was performed as a last resort for a fatal condition. This seems to easily fall within the medical boundaries of seeking to cure while at the same time causing no harm. The problem will arise when gene therapy will be sought to alleviate a condition that is less than life-threatening and perhaps considered by some to simply be one of lifes inconveniences, such as a gene that may offer resistance to AIDS or may enhance memory. Such genes are known now and many are suggesting that these goals will and should be available for gene therapy.

The most troublesome aspect of gene therapy has been determining the best method of delivering the gene to the right cells and enticing them to incorporate the gene into the cells chromosomes. Most researchers have used crippled forms of viruses that naturally incorporate their genes into cells. The entire field of gene therapy was dealt a severe setback in September 1999 upon the death of Jesse Gelsinger who had undergone gene therapy for an inherited enzyme deficiency at the University of Pennsylvania.{3} Jesse apparently suffered a severe immune reaction and died four days after being injected with the engineered virus.

The same virus vector had been used safely in thousands of other trials, but in this case, after releasing stacks of clinical data and answering questions for two days, the researchers didnt fully understand what had gone wrong.{4} Other institutions were also found to have failed to file immediate reports as required of serious adverse events in their trials, prompting a congressional review.{5} All this should indicate that the answers to the technical problems of gene therapy have not been answered and progress will be slowed as guidelines and reporting procedures are studied and reevaluated.

The simple answer is no, at least for the foreseeable future. Gene therapy currently targets existing tissue in a existing child or adult. This may alleviate or eliminate symptoms in that individual, but will not affect future children. To accomplish a correction for future generations, gene therapy would need to target the germ cells, the sperm and egg. This poses numerous technical problems at the present time. There is also a very real concern about making genetic decisions for future generations without their consent.

Some would seek to get around these difficulties by performing gene therapy in early embryos before tissue differentiation has taken place. This would allow the new gene to be incorporated into all tissues, including reproductive organs. However, this process does nothing to alleviate the condition of those already suffering from genetic disease. Also, as mentioned earlier this week, this procedure would put embryos at unacceptable risk due to the inherent rate of failure and potential damage to the embryo.

Another way to affect germ line gene therapy would involve a combination of gene therapy and cloning.{6} An embryo, fertilized in vitro, from the sperm and egg of a couple at risk for sickle-cell anemia, for example, could be tested for the sickle-cell gene. If the embryo tests positive, cells could be removed from this early embryo and grown in culture. Then the normal hemoglobin gene would be added to these cultured cells.

If the technique for human cloning could be perfected, then one of these cells could be cloned to create a new individual. If the cloning were successful, the resulting baby would be an identical twin of the original embryo, only with the sickle-cell gene replaced with the normal hemoglobin gene. This would result in a normal healthy baby. Unfortunately, the initial embryo was sacrificed to allow the engineering of its identical twin, an ethically unacceptable trade-off.

So what we have seen, is that even human gene therapy is not a long-term solution, but a temporary and individual one. But even in condoning the use of gene therapy for therapeutic ends, we need to be careful that those for whom gene therapy is unavailable either for ethical or monetary reasons, dont get pushed aside. It would be easy to shun those with uncorrected defects as less than desirable or even less than human. There is, indeed, much to think about.

The possibility of someone or some government utilizing the new tools of genetic engineering to create a superior race of humans must at least be considered. We need to emphasize, however, that we simply do not know what genetic factors determine popularly desired traits such as athletic ability, intelligence, appearance and personality. For sure, each of these has a significant component that may be available for genetic manipulation, but its safe to say that our knowledge of each of these traits is in its infancy.

Even as knowledge of these areas grows, other genetic qualities may prevent their engineering. So far, few genes have only a single application in the body. Most genes are found to have multiple effects, sometimes in different tissues. Therefore, to engineer a gene for enhancement of a particular traitsay memorymay inadvertently cause increased susceptibility to drug addiction.

But what if in the next 50 to 100 years, many of these unknowns can be anticipated and engineering for advantageous traits becomes possible. What can we expect? Our concern is that without a redirection of the worldview of the culture, there will be a growing propensity to want to take over the evolution of the human species. The many people see it, we are simply upright, large-brained apes. There is no such thing as an independent mind. Our mind becomes simply a physical construct of the brain. While the brain is certainly complicated and our level of understanding of its intricate machinery grows daily, some hope that in the future we may comprehend enough to change who and what we are as a species in order to meet the future demands of survival.

Edward O. Wilson, a Harvard entomologist, believes that we will soon be faced with difficult genetic dilemmas. Because of expected advances in gene therapy, we will not only be able to eliminate or at least alleviate genetic disease, we may be able to enhance certain human abilities such as mathematics or verbal ability. He says, Soon we must look deep within ourselves and decide what we wish to become.{7} As early as 1978, Wilson reflected on our eventual need to decide how human we wish to remain.{8}

Surprisingly, Wilson predicts that future generations will opt only for repair of disabling disease and stop short of genetic enhancements. His only rationale however, is a question. Why should a species give up the defining core of its existence, built by millions of years of biological trial and error?{9} Wilson is naively optimistic. There are loud voices already claiming that man can intentionally engineer our evolutionary future better than chance mutations and natural selection. The time to change the course of this slow train to destruction is now, not later.

Many of the questions surrounding the ethical use of genetic engineering practices are difficult to answer with a simple yes or no. This is one of them. The answer revolves around the method used to determine the sex selection and the timing of the selection itself.

For instance, if the sex of a fetus is determined and deemed undesirable, it can only be rectified by termination of the embryo or fetus, either in the lab or in the womb by abortion. There is every reason to prohibit this process. First, an innocent life has been sacrificed. The principle of the sanctity of human life demands that a new innocent life not be killed for any reason apart from saving the life of the mother. Second, even in this country where abortion is legal, one would hope that restrictions would be put in place to prevent the taking of a life simply because its the wrong sex.

However, procedures do exist that can separate sperm that carry the Y chromosome from those that carry the X chromosome. Eggs fertilized by sperm carrying the Y will be male, and eggs fertilized by sperm carrying the X will be female. If the sperm sample used to fertilize an egg has been selected for the Y chromosome, you simply increase the odds of having a boy (~90%) over a girl. So long as the couple is willing to accept either a boy or girl and will not discard the embryo or abort the baby if its the wrong sex, its difficult to say that such a procedure should be prohibited.

One reason to utilize this procedure is to reduce the risk of a sex-linked genetic disease. Color-blindness, hemophilia, and fragile X syndrome can be due to mutations on the X chromosome. Therefore, males (with only one X chromosome) are much more likely to suffer from these traits when either the mother is a carrier or the father is affected. (In females, the second X chromosome will usually carry the normal gene, masking the mutated gene on the other X chromosome.) Selecting for a girl by sperm selection greatly reduces the possibility of having a child with either of these genetic diseases. Again, its difficult to argue against the desire to reduce suffering when a life has not been forfeited.

But we must ask, is sex determination by sperm selection wise? A couple that already has a boy and simply wants a girl to balance their family, seems innocent enough. But why is this important? What fuels this desire? Its dangerous to take more and more control over our lives and leave the sovereignty of God far behind. This isnt a situation of life and death or even reducing suffering.

But while it may be difficult to find anything seriously wrong with sex selection, its also difficult to find anything good about it. Even when the purpose may be to avoid a sex-linked disease, we run the risk of communicating to others affected by these diseases that because they could have been avoided, their life is somehow less valuable. So while it may not be prudent to prohibit such practices, it certainly should not be approached casually either.


1. Lee Silver, Remaking Eden: Cloning and Beyond in a Brave New World, New York, NY: Avon Books, p. 230-231. 2. Leon Jaroff, Success stories, Time, 11 January 1999, p. 72-73. 3. Sally Lehrman, Virus treatment questioned after gene therapy death, Nature Vol. 401 (7 October 1999): 517-518. 4. Eliot Marshall, Gene therapy death prompts review of adenovirus vector, Science Vol. 286 (17 December 1999): 2244-2245. 5. Meredith Wadman, NIH under fire over gene-therapy trials, Nature Vol. 403 (20 January 1999): 237. 6. Steve Mirsky and John Rennie, What cloning means for gene therapy, Scientific American, June 1997, p. 122-123. 7. Ibid., p. 277. 8. Edward Wilson, On Human Nature, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, p. 6. 9. E. Wilson, Consilience, p. 277.

2000 Probe Ministries

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On January 8, 2007, the Associated Press reported that scientists from Wake Forest University and Harvard University discovered a new type of stem cell found in the amniotic fluid within

Kerby Anderson provides a biblical look at genetic engineering. Christians would be wise to distinguish between two types of research: genetic repair (acceptable) and the creation of new forms of

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Human Genetic Engineering Facts

Posted: August 14, 2017 at 11:58 am

Names of a lot of scientists come to notice whenever there are talks about Human Genetic Engineering Facts. Two scientists namely Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer discovered a technique for cloning using DNA. These two have contributed a lot in Human Genetic Engineering studies. This stage was the discovery of science for historians. It was also the beginning of advanced sciences.

Two other popular scientists involved in studying Human Genetic Engineering Facts were Cohen and Boyer. They made proper use of enzymes with the purpose of cutting bacteria plasmid in slices.

A different DNA strand was required for placing these slices. DNA strands can be obtained from that particular bacteria plasmid. Cohen and Boyer, together with their efforts, proved that it is quite possible to manipulate or mix the genes. DNA mapping has made it easier for the scientists to do the genes manipulation.

Human Genetic Engineering Facts have emerged a lot in this area of work. With the emergence of these facts it became possible for scientists to develop insulin that can be used in the treatment of patients that suffer from diabetes. The technique can also be used for creating insulin that can be given to patients suffering from ailments in their kidney.

The invention of genetic therapy also involves the use of this technique. White blood cells present in humans can be altered genetically. This is the situation in people that have defects in the immune system. Altered blood cells can easily be reinserted for improvements in the immune system.

Agricultural benefits of Human Genetic Engineering

Crops can be modified with the help of genetic engineering. This is an important advantage or factor contributing in the vast scope of Human Genetic Engineering Facts . Gene therapy will alter or change the genes, and this will keep the vegetable and fruits resistant from any kind of disease. Human Genetic Engineering Facts have inspired many scientists. Farmers have also been impressed with the effect that it lays on the growth of fruits and vegetables. Many additional benefits are there for using gene therapy in agricultural activities. It will increase the production by making minimum investment.

Many otherHuman Genetic Engineering Facts are there that can leave positive impact on agricultural development. This can be done in order to fulfill the demand of food items. It will also result in reducing the use of insecticides, and fertilizers at the same time convenient. All these factors will contribute together for reducing the amount of pollution caused from the fertilizers. It will also increase the level of health among people.

Other benefits

Human Genetic Engineering Facts can also lead to generate breeds that will bring diversity among the animals that have been modified genetically. It will keep animals away from any kind of danger. Gene therapy will increase the strength of the animals to a great extent. This will also enable them to cope with the ever changing environment. Animals that have genetically altered genes will stay away from deadly diseases.

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The ethics of creating GMO humans | The Spokesman-Review – The Spokesman-Review

Posted: August 6, 2017 at 2:55 am


Los Angeles Times (TNS)

The following editorial appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Friday, Aug. 4:


In a process that can be likened to the creation of GMO crops, scientists have edited genes in human embryos in order to eliminate a mutation that causes thickening of the heart wall. The embryos were created solely for the scientists study and will not be implanted. Nonetheless, the research offers hope that in years ahead, science could prevent many serious genetic diseases at the stage in which people are a microscopic cluster of cells in a petri dish. Whats more, because those edited genes would be carried forth into new generations, the disease might eventually be eliminated altogether.

Is this a glorious new frontier or a troubling situation? Unequivocally, the answer is yes to both.

The research results by an international team of U.S., Chinese and South Korean scientists were enormously exciting medically. Beyond the technical achievement involved, the teams work hastened the arrival of a revolutionary form of treatment: removing genes that can lead inexorably to suffering and premature death.

Public policy and the field of bioethics have not caught up with the science of genetic intervention.

But there is also a great deal we still dont know about how minor issues might become major ones as people pass on edited DNA to their offspring, and as people who have had some genes altered reproduce with people who have had other genes altered. Weve seen how selectively breeding to produce one trait can unexpectedly produce other, less desirable outcomes. Remember how growers were able to create tomatoes that were more uniformly red, but in the process, they turned off the gene that gave tomatoes flavor?

Another major issue is the ethics of adjusting humans genetically to fit a favored outcome. Today its heritable disease, but what might be seen as undesirable traits in the future that people might want to eliminate? Short stature? Introverted personality? Klutziness?

To be sure, its not as though everyone is likely to line up for gene-edited offspring rather than just having babies, at least for the foreseeable future. The procedure can be performed only on in vitro embryos and requires precision timing.

But even with this early study, problematic issues already are evident. Gene editing isnt the only method to protect against certain hereditary conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which was edited out in this study. Children stand a 50 percent chance of inheriting the condition; if a couple produces several embryos through in vitro fertilization, half of those already would theoretically be free of the mutation, and those are the ones that would be selected for implantation. Gene editing made the process more efficient, but it did not offer hope where there was none, Jennifer Doudna, a molecular and cell biologist at the University of California at Berkeley, observed.

In fact, six months ago, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine recommended that scientists involved in germline editing that is, making changes that would be passed down to future generations should limit their work to diseases for which there are no other reasonable treatments. The most recent embryo study began before that recommendation was delivered.

Thats emblematic of the real problem: Public policy and the field of bioethics have not caught up with the science of genetic intervention. Yes, federal money cant be spent on research involving human embryos even when they are still at the stage of a clump of undifferentiated cells. FDA approval would be needed for any actual human therapies, which would be years off.

Still, the technology is advancing more rapidly than societys discussions about human genetic engineering, the specter of eugenics and even the seemingly mundane topics of who will own the patents on customized genes and who will have access to gene editing once it is approved.

The answers arent easy, but the discussions have to take place and decisions need to be made, probably through an international convention that includes governments, researchers, physicians and consumer advocates. Taking the research to the next level should mean experimentation with animals rather than humans. They should then be followed for generations to see whether unexpected health issues arise. Gene editing on humans should be introduced one step at a time, starting with the most disastrous diseases and conditions that cannot be tackled in any other way, then tracked long term to ensure safety.

We all would love to eliminate disabling deformities, painful conditions that shorten lives or genetic mutations that predispose us to various fatal diseases. Although science has a long way to go before such miracles are achieved, research is moving fast. Its paramount that we get human gene editing right rather than just getting it soon.


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Human Genetic Engineering Cons

Posted: July 26, 2017 at 3:56 pm

Many Human Genetic Engineering Cons are there that can stop a person from getting through the entire gene therapy. It is a process in which there is a modification or change in the genes of a human. The aim or objective of using Human Genetic Engineering is to choose newborn phenotype or to change or alter the existing phenotype of an adult or an already grown child. Human Genetic Engineering has shown a lot of promise for curing cystic fibrosis. It is a kind of genetic disease that exist in humans. It will increase the level of immunity in people. Increased immunity will make them resistant to several severe diseases.

There is also a speculation that Human Genetic Engineering can be used in other area of work. It can be used for making changes in the physical appearances. Metabolism may notice some improvements. Human Genetic Engineering Cons can be seen on the mental abilities of a human.

However, it can make certain improvements in the intelligence level. Human Genetic Engineering has made a lot of contributions in the field of advanced medical sciences. There is not much data about Human Genetic Engineering Cons . One can easily think of it as a successful invention in the field of medical science.

Gene therapy can be used for curing several deadly diseases. Many diseases are there that have no cure, so this is a helpful invention in this field. It can lead to various health benefits. Genetic engineering can also lead to population free from any diseases. However, some Human Genetic Engineering Cons are also there that can trouble human beings.

This is because of the complications involved in human genes. A person has multiple physical attributes that differ from each other, so chances are there that these attributes get controlled by only one gene sequence. This helps the scientists to make changes or alteration in only one gene at a time and the remaining multiple sequences of genes will automatically be altered.

Scientists involved in this alteration process also noticed that whenever a DNA strand gets a new gene, then it becomes difficult for the DNA strand to make a decision about where the new gene will be settled. It is one of the factors that contribute to Human Genetic Engineering Cons. With the help of genetic engineering scientists will find no difficulty at the time of altering a part of DNA in a human. This will keep them resistant or away from any genetic disease or effects. These effects might be there on the reproductive cells of a person.

For an instance, it these reproductive cells are there on parents that their children will automatically acquire the effects of genetics. Such Human Genetic Engineering Cons can cause few genetic diseases on humans. Chances of errors are always there in making use of genetic engineering for human cloning, agriculture, and in any other related field. Entire human generation can lead to mutation if these Human Genetic Engineering Cons do get removed at their earliest.

Human Genetic Engineering Cons

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China unveils technology to create SUPER-HUMANS via hyper-muscular test-tube dogs –

Posted: July 19, 2017 at 3:55 am

The dogs, which are test tube bred in a lab, have twice the muscle mass of their natural counterparts and are considerably stronger and faster.

The canine genome has been especially difficult to engineer and replicate but its close similarity to the human genome means it has long been the prize of geneticists.

Now the Chinese success has led to fears the same technology could be used to create super-humans.

David King, director of Human Genetics Alert (HGA), voiced his fears over what is widely viewed as the first step on s slippery slope.

He told the Its true that the more and more animals that are genetically engineered using these techniques brings us closer to the possibility of genetic engineering of humans.

Dogs are as a species, in respect of cloning are very difficult, and even more difficult to clone human beings.

Theres no medical case for it, the scientists are interested in being the first person in the world to create a genetically engineer child.

Theyre interested in science and the technology and their careers. They will continue pushing the regulations for it.


That does set us on the road to eugenics. I am very concerned with what Im seeing.

An army of super-humans has been a staple of science fiction and superhero comics for decades but the super-dog technology brings it closer to reality.

The Chinese researchers first self-bred cloned dog was named Little Long Long.

The beagle puppy, one of 27, was genetically engineered by deleting a gene called myostatin, giving it double the muscle mass of a normal beagle.

The advance genetic editing technology has been touted as a breakthrough which could herald the dawn of superbreeds, which could be stronger, faster, better at running and hunting.


The dogs could potentially be deployed to frontline service to assist police officers, scientists said.

Dr Lai Liangxue, researcher at Guangzhou institute of biological medicine and health, said: "This is a breakthrough, marking China as only the second country in the world to independently master dog-somatic clone technology, after South Korea."

Some 65 embryos were edited, and from that 27 were born, with Little Long Long the only one who was created without the myostatin gene. Myostatin is known to control muscle size in humans.

Dogs are one of the hardest animals to clone, with only South Korea thought to have successfully created a clone in the past.

As well as the enhancements, researchers said in the Journal of Molecular Cell Biology some dogs will be bred with DNA mutations in a bid to help medical research, including some which mimic Parkinsons.

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Dr Lai added: "The goal of the research is to explore an approach to the generation of the new disease dog models for biomedical research.

"Dogs are very close to humans in terms of metabolic, physiological and anatomical characteristics."

But some have criticised the experiments, citing ethical concerns.

Mr King continued: This is the way its likely to proceed if the law is changed, first of all they will use it for medical purposes, most likely to treat a genetic condition.


I am very concerned with what Im seeing

David King

In terms of genetic engineering we will be seeing this more and more.

There are also fears that, as well as medical, tinkering with genetics could also lead to a rise in designer or novelty pets.

Dr Lai said his team have no intentions to breed the bulked up beagles as pets.

But Mr King also voiced fears that this breakthrough, coupled with existing cases of altering human embryos, could lead to further calls for designer babies.

The director of HGA, and independent body, claimed there are multiple examples of eugenics going on already, citing women who are intelligent and beautiful are paid more for their eggs in the US.

Mr King said: Its not scaremongering.

Im seeing the beginning of a campaign within the scientific community to legalise human genetic engineering.

Weve seen how it happened with the thee-parent embryo.


I can see the same thing building up with genetic engineering.

There are strict laws around cloning, but one example of a case in the UK is Dolly the sheep.

Born in 1996, she died aged six in 2003, half the normal life span of a Finn Dorset sheep.

And recently, an artificial womb for premature babies was tested on lambs, and showed significant success.

Lambs born at the equivalent of 23 weeks were placed inside the fake womb which contained fluid mimicking that found in an amniotic sac.

They remained inside for 28 days, and continued to develop, even growing white fleeces.

Guo Longpeng, the China press officer for the Asia division of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said: "Cloning is unethical.

"Like any other laboratory animal, these animals are caged and manipulated in order to provide a lucrative bottom line."

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The Scopes Monkey Trial and global warming: Same playbook, different football – Baptist News Global

Posted: July 14, 2017 at 11:58 pm

A business owner, a school superintendent and a lawyer walk into a bar . Sounds like the beginning of a lame joke, right? Well, it was definitely a joke even worse than the kind of joke that might illicit an eye roll from spouse or friends. Ninety-two years ago this week, one of the greatest legal farces in history commenced in the small town of Dayton, Tenn. It all started at a drug store lunch counter as many things do in a small town when a manager at a local company met with the school superintendent and a local attorney. The story goes that the businessman, George Rappleyea of the Cumberland Coal and Iron Company, hatched a plan designed to bring much needed publicity to Dayton. So, you must wondering, what kind of publicity campaign did they devise? They, of course, decided to bring suit against a 24-year-old substitute teacher named John T. Scopes, for unwittingly teaching evolution in science class.

Pit fundamentalist Christians against modernist ones. Place science and the Bible itself on trial. Drive a wedge between conservative people of faith and the scientific community. Create a cloud of doubt and fear about scientific claims, and instead of encouraging people to study and wrestle with the claims themselves, encourage a spirit of bitter resentment and dismissal. Create a media driven campaign to discredit scientists, thereby discrediting science in general. Make sure all this is started and largely funded by a leader in the fossil fuels industry. Make sure the ACLU (among others) is on the side of the liberal, anti-God movement.

Now, instead of the Scopes Monkey Trial, think global warming and climate change. Its the same playbook, folks. As people of faith we should be able to recognize and name a farce when we see one, and stand up for truth in the face of propaganda meant to drive a wedge between good people of faith. Care for creation may well be the most pressing ethical and theological issue of our time, and the church cannot allow disinformation and indoctrination to rule the day.

We live in a time of seemingly unprecedented political division, and many organizations and movements decry the changes in our culture, and the progress we are making. Harry Emerson Fosdick said in his famous sermon, Shall the Fundamentalists Win, The new knowledge and the old faith cannot be left antagonistic or even disparate, as though a man on Saturday could use one set of regulative ideas for his life and on Sunday could change gears to another altogether. We must be able to think our modern life clear through in Christian terms, and to do that we also must be able to think our Christian faith clear through in modern terms. Think that sounds tough in modern times? How about postmodern times?

Many of the same challenges that existed in the last century persist today. Pastors in churches across the country face the challenge of placing faith in the contemporary context a context marked by sweeping and rapid change. One peer-reviewed article I recently read cites that the only cross-segment of American society that has grown in its distrust of science since the late 1970s is Protestant Evangelicals. Let that sink in for a minute. Think about how that fact impacts our political climate. Think about how that fact impacts our planetary climate. Simply astounding.

Interesting, is it not, that the rise of evangelical distrust in science itself coincides with the rise of the so-called Moral Majority and the culture wars of the 1980s and 90s?

Its been nearly a hundred years since The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes, but for many, science (or the Bible depending on your perspective) remain on trial. As Christians, we (perhaps) still struggle to speak of faith and science in ways that dont alienate or divide people in our churches. In 1925, the conversation was about the future of education and about the nature of religion, focusing largely on the history of humanity. Today the conversation between science and faith revolves around the future of the planet, the ethics of human genetic engineering, human sexuality, and the nature of religion itself, focusing largely on the future of humanity.

The conversations between science and faith will never go away. As scientific knowledge exponentially proliferates at unprecedented rates, those of us in faith communities need to strongly consider how we are called to respond to the discoveries and claims of the scientific community. I fear many are still living in 1925.

Related story:Millennials not OK with conventional science vs. religion debates, experts say

Related opinion:Genius hesitates, both in science and religion | Scott Dickison

OPINION: Views expressed in Baptist News Global columns and commentaries are solely those of the authors.

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Science and Scientists on the Vineyard: Genes at play with CRISPR – Martha’s Vineyard Times

Posted: June 17, 2017 at 1:53 pm

Paul Levine, a resident of West Tisbury, former professor at Harvard, and visiting professor at Stanford University, writes occasionally about scientific research taking place today, along with profiles of the Islands scientists and their work and facts of scientific note on the Island. This week, he follows up on his gene-editing column from six weeks ago, which described the genetics research that has led to CRISPR, which stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats. If youre wondering what that is, read on.

In this, the second column on the subject of gene editing, imagine a world in which many human genetic disorders have been eliminated, no children are born with cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs disease, sickle cell anemia, or other genetic disorders. Welcome to the world of CRISPR, an acronym for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats of the DNA of a gene. CRISPR can locate a defective gene and, along with an enzyme called Cas9, can, like a pair of scissors, snip out the unwanted gene and suture a desirable gene in its place. It is a technique of genetic editing that is more precise, efficient, and affordable than anything that has come before. What I describe below is specific to the Vineyard (the elimination of Lyme disease) and relevant to society as a whole for the potential for great good, but also for possible misuse use of the technology, which has raised questions of ethics and safety.

CRISPR-Cas9 as a tool for genetic editing has a history that goes back to a 2011 scientific conference at which microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier, now the director of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, met Jennifer Doudna, professor of chemistry and molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley. They talked about CRISPR-Cas9, and what follows is the story of one of the most significant achievements in genetics since the discovery of the structure and function of DNA. It is a story that involves brilliant scientists, competition, big egos, patent disputes, and the possibility of a Nobel Prize, not to mention the immense financial gain by biotech, agribusiness, and pharmaceutical companies.

Prior to todays application of CRISPR to edit genes, it was known that it was a means by which bacteria protected themselves from infection by viruses by recognizing and binding to viral DNA and destroying it with enzymes. Charpentier and Doudna wondered whether the technique could be applied to other things than the detection and destruction of viral DNA. If it could, it might lead to a way to snip out bad genes and possibly replace them with good ones. They began a collaborative research project with bacteria, and developed a technique for cutting out and replacing bacterial genes with CRISPR and an enzyme, Cas9. In other words, it was now possible to edit the bacterial genome by cutting and pasting genes. Doudna and Charpentier published their research in the journal Science in 2012. Aware of the great potential that the ability to edit genomes presented, the University of California patented their discovery.

At about the same time, Feng Zhang at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard was working with Cas9, and discovered that CRISPR-Cas9 could also be applied to edit the genes of animals and plants. His discovery was published a few months after the publication of the work of Doudna and Charpentier.

The Broad Institute applied for and received a patent based on the results of Zhangs research. However, prior to their filing, the University of California, Berkeley, had filed for and received a patent based on Doudnas and Charpentiers research.

In a patent dispute, it was ruled that the Broad Institutes patent took precedent over the University of California patent because it applies to animal and plant cells. The University of California, Berkeley, has asserted that although their patent involves bacteria, it includes all forms of life.

Unfortunately, a consequence of the dispute is the enmity that has developed between some of the parties involved.

It was not long before life scientists throughout the world began to develop the technique in order to advance progress in human genetic engineering to cure some of the 6,000 human genetic disorders.

With respect to applications of CRISPR-Cas9 to edit human genes, research is underway to use it to control insect- and spider-borne disease; for example, mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite and the viruses that cause dengue, West Nile, and Zika fever. The object of the research is to produce sterile female mosquitoes by using CRISPR-Cas9 to edit out the genes required for their fertility, and distribute the sterile females in areas around the world where mosquito-borne diseases occur. This approach has been met with some success at the laboratory level.

Another research effort which might be familiar to you is to eliminate Lyme disease by distributing white-footed mice that have been manipulated with gene-editing techniques to effectively be immune to the bacteria which causes Lyme, all using CRISPR-Cas9. This would break the transmission cycle of the bacteria (see MV Times, Scientist proposes genetic attack on M.V. ticks, July 20, 2016).

I havent mentioned possible commercial applications of CRISPR-Cas9, and the great profits to be made by Monsanto and other agribusiness companies by the production of genetically modified plants and domestic animals. The technology is also appealing to Big Pharma. Its worth looking at the highly controversial and ethical questions that accompany the use of CRISPR-Cas9. In contrast with noninheritable somatic cell human gene editing described above, there is another technique called germ line gene editing, which makes gene changes at the level of human eggs, sperm, and embryos that would be heritable. Experiments on human embryos have been carried out by scientists in China and the U.K. that have raised concern that CRISPR-Cas9 could lead to the production of designer babies parents choosing the traits they want their children to have. Designer babies are a vast topic, too vast to bring up here, but there is an excellent discussion of the subject in Roger Gosdens The Brave New World of Reproductive Technology.

Jennifer Doudna, at U.C. Berkeley, and Feng Zhang at MIT, the principal developers and promoters of gene editing, appear to be at odds over the ethical questions surrounding the technology. Doudna is concerned with the ethics and the publics perception of CRISPR-Cas9, but Zhang appears less so, and prefers to drive the research to cure genetic disorders, putting aside the possibility of the production of designer babies.

If you want to explore CRISPR-Cas9 and come to an opinion regarding one of the most significant developments in genetics in this century, I urge you to read Robert Kolkers 2016 article in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, How Jennifer Doudnas Gene Editing Technique Will Change the World. It can be found at Listen to Doudnas TED Talk here:

Finally, I should mention that a two-act play named Gene Play, about the story of recDNA and CRISPR-Cas9, will be read by a cast of actors at the Vineyard Playhouse on June 19.

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Two Representatives Offer A Look At How Congress Is Doing – WNIJ and WNIU

Posted: June 16, 2017 at 2:58 pm

On A Friday Forum earlier this year, Illinois U.S. Representatives Bill Foster and Randy Hultgren talked about their hopes and concerns for the new Congress as it began its work. For this week's Friday Forum,WNIJ's Guy Stephens asked the two for an update on how things are going in Congress.

Randy Hultgren and Bill Foster have both served several terms in the U.S. House. Hultgren, a Republican considered one of the most conservative members of Congress, took the old 14th District from Foster in 2010. When new lines were drawn in 2012, Hultgren won election in the new 14th, while Foster, who calls himself a centrist Democrat, won the seat in the new 11th District. Both won re-election last year.

Its been a tumultuous several months in Washington, but Hultgren felt that Congress, at least, has earned a fairly good grade. He gave it a B. Why?

"Theres some really good things happening," he said, but it could be better -- with some help.

"We need to be doing our work, certainly, in the House, but also need the Senate to step up and do some of the important things. Theyve been very focused early on in this session on appointments and I know that took a lot of time.

Hultgren based his positive assessment, in part, on Congresss productivity. Just look at the numbers through this week, he said. Theres more going on than youd guess from the headlines. He finds that encouraging.

Weve passed 158 bills through the House, and thats the highest, really, in recent history," he said. "The average at this point would be right around a little over 91 bills, and 37 of them have actually gone on to become law, through the Senate and signed by the President. So in spite of all of the busy-ness and noise and challenges and bumps, were still getting our work done. Were still moving forward on some important issues.

But Hultgren said he thinks there is a limited window of opportunity to pursue those big issues, and the challenge is for the White House and Congress to stay focused. Otherwise, the people may give his party a much lower grade than his in the 2018 elections.

Foster had a very different view. He didnt disagree that a lot has been done. Whether thats a positive, he said, it depends.

Well," he said,"youd have different grades in different subjects. For instance, in health care, I would give Congress a D-.

Foster said thats because he thinks Republicans should have gone in another direction than they did with the GOP health care bill, which he said was often referred to during the debate by opponents as a "wealthcare bill."

"The starting point and the ending point of that was a tax cut for the wealthy of most of a trillion dollars," he said. "And when thats your starting point, you then have to balance the books. You have to take away most of a trillion dollars of healthcare from someone in the United States.

Foster said likewise, the effort to repeal and replace the financial reform legislation known as Dodd-Frank, which passed on a party-line vote, has provisions that could have dire consequences for both individuals and the economy.

Foster said those concerns also apply to proposals on tax reform and infrastructure spending, which he says have so far been disappointing, but where there remains the possibility of bipartisan action.

Hultgren emphasized that most of the issues and bills that he and his colleagues are working on arent the big polarizing ones like health care or tax reform. But theyre still important. He listed his service on the financial services committee, as co-chairman of the Tom LantosHuman Rights Commission that deals with problems such as religious persecution and human trafficking, work on improving access to Perkins Loans that provide individuals money for education, a bill to protect veterans whose credit has been adversely affected by reimbursement delays when using the Veterans Choice Program, and work to strengthen the Federal Home Loan Bank.

Hultgren said those efforts are often -- in fact, mostly -- bipartisan. Foster, too, said it has been possible to work across the aisle on some things. One he pointed to thats transcended party politics is the opioid crisis. He said the problem is widespread and has, on average, affected Republican districts harder than Democratic ones.

"Its something where, if youre going to do some good, you have to spend money," he said. "And so, even people who believe they were elected to cut the size of government are often willing to spend some amount of taxpayer money on things like dealing with the heroin epidemic.

Foster said that was evident in the bipartisan pushback that reversed proposed cuts to addiction programs in the administrations preliminary budget.

He said progress also can happen on things that dont seem so dire in fact, maybe just the opposite.

Ive often found its easier to get bipartisan agreement when youre talking about the long-distant future," he said."If youre talking about next years budget, it immediately gets very partisan."

He cites as an example human genetic engineering -- think designer babies --which seems the stuff of science fiction, but which Foster said is closer to being a reality than you think. He was able to get the chairman of his committee, a Republican with whom he says he rarely agrees, to arrange a hearing on the topic.

Although hes in the majority, Hultgren said he too realizes that getting a bill not just through the House but the Senate as well and signed into law means reaching out to the other side. He said he often strives to do so, even as he tries to move quickly on his own and his partys agenda.

But Foster remains concerned about how that process happens in the House these days. He said hed like to return to how things used to work in Congress -- whats known as regular order. He explained by giving as an example what used to happen to an appropriations bill.

It would come up under whats called an open rule, where any member of Congress would get to propose an amendment," he said. "We couldnt just arbitrarily add large amounts of money to a program, but we could, for example, move money from one bucket to another bucket within the same bill."

This, Foster said, was a very positive way for members of both parties to get involved in coming to a better place, and he thought it was a very healthy thing for the institution.

"But," he said, "it is not loved by those who are in charge of the U.S. House. They want -- them and their staff -- to write just write all the final deals.

As a result, he said, members of Congress often are asked only for an up-or-down vote on big omnibus bills put before them.

On top of that, Foster said the turmoil -- as well as the policies -- of the Trump Administration has him worried and complicates efforts in Congress to do something constructive for the country. But he said hell continue to do his bit to affect change for the better.

Hultgren doesnt necessarily disagree about the effects of the turmoil on the process. Still, he said, in spite of that, he reminds people once again that its not all partisan battling and stalemate in Washington.

I would say eighty percent of the things we work on or more are absolutely bipartisan things," he said. "So, well continue to get things done and continue to struggle and find ways to get things done on the other twenty percent or so that we absolutely do disagree on.

But he thinks that, for more of that to happen, both representatives including him -- and their constituents need to work harder at being well-informed, to recognize other points of view, and not take every bit of information that comes their way from a particular source as gospel truth.

To listen to not just Fox News, but to tune in to MSNBC once in a while, or CNN, or vice versa," he said. "Or to still get a newspaper and look through that, or if you can get some different websites where you can get some information."

He adds that public radio continues to be a great place to hear a range of perspectives and for going a little bit more in depth on issues than, say, the cable news shows.

If everyone did that, he said, then the system and Congress would have a better chance to work more like it should.

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