We are our genes

Robert J. Bradbury (bradbury@www.aeiveos.com)
Sat, 4 Sep 1999 03:58:53 -0700 (PDT)

It seems in some of the discussions, that some people are less aware of the degree to which we are shackled by our biological heritage than I am. [Or they may simply want to believe this.]

I realized in reading an pharma-industry newsletter (Emerging Pharmaceuticals) tonight, that one reason for this may simply be that I've been somewhat immersed in the Biotech/Pharma industry for many years and have information sources that reach the public later or in a much distilled or distorted form.

So, I thought I would throw out a few tidbits from the Sept. 1999 issue of the newsletter:

  1. Scientists at the Univ. of Cambridge, INSERM and the firm Bioproject have developed a drug BP-897, that has specificity for the D3-dopamine receptors (over the D1/D2/D4). The drug appears to suppress the stimulus associated "cravings" that occur following withdrawal in cocaine addicted rats. They speculate that this could suppress the cravings that occur in other with other addictions such as nicotine or heroin.
  2. A recently discovered 28-mer peptide called "orexin B" which may be identical to the separately discovered "hypocretin-2" appears to be the molecule that keeps you awake. Stanford and UTSMC groups have separately verified that in dogs with defective receptors for this molecule and mice with the orexin B knocked out suffer from narcolepsy (falling asleep in the middle of activities). The molecule also appears to be involved in regulating appetite.
  3. Two proteins cryptochrome-1 and -2, found which are concentrated in the eye appear to be the light-sensitive sensors that mediate the resetting of the circadian functions.

So, we have "cravings", "wakefullness", "appetite" and "body rhythms" under the control of these little molecules. I believe that I may have mentioned in a previous post that leptin appears to be the hormone for triggering sexual maturation.

Since we have only scratched the tip of the iceberg, I think the people who want to believe "I *am* my own master", have their work cut out for them in defending, what I predict will be an ever shrinking set of characteristics, behaviors, desires, motivations, etc. of which they are the master. Yes, we can modify ourselves, but our degrees of freedom are *limited*, until we have the technologies to change the hardware.