Re: Artificial Chromosome Success in Mice

Robert J. Bradbury (
Wed, 20 Oct 1999 19:46:10 -0700 (PDT)

On Wed, 20 Oct 1999, S.J. Van Sickle wrote:

> And you are right Robert; these guys are primarily interested in using it
> for somatic cell engineering.
Steve, I'm not so sure about this. As I read the press release they want to use inherited chromosomes for engineering animals to produce specific proteins. That isn't "somatic" engineering, it is "germ line" engineering. From the perspective that it starts out as germ line, but ends up somatic you are correct. However, the key point I've tried to make, is that *you* and *I* aren't germ cells. Since the probability of individuals who are *now* germ cells having a fundamental impact on the course of the development of biotech, nanotech and the singularity is very small, it really isn't of much use to focus on these approaches (at least with regard to "humans"). If Chromos is focused entirely on farm animals with smaller generation times then it may be of passing interest (it probably helps people in 3rd world countries by increasing agricultural productivity much more than it helps you or I individually)..

The fundamental problem with whole chromosome approaches is that you have to get "whole" chromosomes into cells. You can't use viruses for this, you have to inject them as an entity using methods similar to those used in in vitro fertilization or nuclear replacement (but at a much smaller level). This approach doesn't work well for an organism with trillions of cells...

Richard Simmons is lying on the operating table. The cameras cut to the gene therapy stage containing billions of micro-needles with tipped with anti-fat chromosomes descending slowly towards his body. You observe the needles slowly intersecting and penetrating the skin... In the background you hear this agonizing scream of pain. "Oowweeee!!! That huuurrrrrtttts!!!"

I think there are ways around this problem but the engineering hurdles are not small.