On Sat, 22 Jan 2000, Elizabeth Childs wrote:
> > I wrote:
> > But that doesn't keep me from asking (and perhaps wishing) that the
> > emotional wringers these experiences involve should be significantly
> > reinterpreted, particularly in light of the advancements in technology
> > that are expected.
> Any guess as to the year when the biological clock for women/infertility
> will become null and void? Which breakthroughs will need to be made?
Well, the Japanese are supposed to be working on an Awomb. And
of course NIH and most Western countries keep pushing back the
envelope for premies. This will be helped by the genome(s) since
we could study mice or some other species to better determine
any late genetic switches that are getting flipped and make sure
that externally they get flipped as well.
I suspect the "Bclock" for women (if you are refering to those
late-20's/early-30's "urges"), will be subtle. It might be
entirely psychological. Or it could be a hormone, similar
to Leptin (triggering sexual maturation), or the currently MIA
signals regarding fat reserves and the regulation of body temp.
If so its going to be tricky to find and will probably show
up as an orphan hormone that someone gets lucky discovering its
the Bclock timer.
Infertility is going to die the death of a thousand cuts. They
will keep working on it until they discover piece by piece what
is broken and how to fix it or work-around it. The genome helps
here to since genotyping could let you spot broken fertilization
processes or incompatible gene sets. But this is going to take
many years for all the correlation studies to trickle in.
Overall, I'd say within 10 years you will be looking at a very different
playing field. In 20, having babies the "natural" way will start
being a hot topic of debate -- (why risk the lives of the mother
and child?, etc.).
Now, also in 10 years you should probably be able to do Aeggs and
Asperm; which seems silly when you can do A-human-proto-cell.
So, Eugene will not object, I'll simply point out that you don't
have to understand the genes to copy them from a working genome
blueprint. How much genome reduction you can get away with (which
relates to cost as I discussed at Extro3), will depend on how much
we understand regarding gene function at that time. I haven't
worked out the numbers yet, but I strongly suspect that if
this is even moderately popular, the costs would be significantly
below costs for IVF today.
Real designer babies are going to take the off-the-shelf "brains"
and "health" and bodies/looks (pick your favorite model or actor)
and then "tweek" them so they have some fraction of the parent's
genes and looks. The real discussions will revolve around whether
you want a child thats 70% you or 30% you.
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