Posts Tagged ‘genetics’

DNA the best Way

April 1, 2019

The dispensation of DNA

is best when it’s done in an orderly way.

What’s needed is that any man who so yearns

should direct his emissions in loving terms

to the same loving recipient every time:

all his kids have the same mama on down the line.

So let the ladder of life, the DNA

be distributed in a family way.

From the itinerant visionary

LadderJ

to the coding contemporary,

DNAdubhelx

counsel the loopy adventurer with his genital arrow

to find motherly love in the strait and narrow.

So the resulting kids will grow up right,

and not be left in a social services plight.

You may think I’m old-fashioned in this,

but ’tis not a principle to flippantly dismiss:

The distribution of our precious DNA

is bestly dispensed in the family way.

Now if you guys think that I’m not cool,

well I AM cool, y’all. . . and no April fool!

Glass Chimera

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The Defender of Life

June 28, 2014

 

‘Z’ounds!

What’s this!

What bellicose shell?

What Defender of the Molluskan realm?

What Challenger from Sands and Seas?

What El Toro wielding horns to gore yon matador?bellcoseSh3What defensive reflex hath raised such pointy provocation?

What genetic arsenal from the clammy Deep hath constructed such antlerian Defense?

Why, the Defender of Life Itself, the Great I Am, the One Who IS–

The One who wrote the Code.

He defends his own!

Stand aside, all ye challengers of the Faith!

 

Glass Chimera

Hey man, carry the sacred flame

July 11, 2011

There is a sacred flame that passes from generation to generation, and this is how it happens:

Every man carries deep within himself a volatile liquid; it is an essence of who he is and who is destined to be.
That volatilte essence can be ignited into a passionate flame when a spark of desire flies between him and a woman.

Something mysteriously exquisite about the shape and presence of a woman produces the spark.

The man does not understand the chromosomal power of his desire, but he feels it. The sight of the woman–just about any woman–sets the spark flying. But that does not mean that the potency of his essence can find its best fulfillment in just any woman he lays desiring eyes on.

Herein is the difference between civilization and savagery:

The sacred flame is passed from generation to generation when a man and women unite for the purpose of protecting that flame, and tending it with love and purpose. She is the temple in which his holy fire burns continually, if he trims the wick faithfully.

But if a man seeks self-fulfillment by setting fires any old where at any old time with just any person, he becomes a sexual anarchist, tossing out firebombs that ignite jealosies and confusions and untended children wherever he goes.

DNA, and the One who wrote the DNA code, has designed all this, and ordained it. But its powerful built-in yearnings can operate in one of two very different ways. The One who wrote the code programmed in choices for us, and this is what makes true love possible.  The way of holy fire establishes a warm, bright environment for the good life to flourish; the other way lays IEDs of  trouble and mayhem that maim this generation and the next.

So, hey man, don’t wander around tossing out firebombs. Find a safe haven for your sacred fire; then tend the flame with love and care.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

The two types of stem cells

June 18, 2011

A couple of years ago, I delved into a personal research project,  in order to write my second novel,  Glass Chimera. From a layman’s perspective, I was learning about  genes, DNA, cloning, and other areas of scientific endeavor that pertain to the science of genetics.  I learned a lot about the human genome, more than I can ever understand or explain.

One particular area of genetics that is often discussed in our era is  the use of stem cells. My limited investigation into the subject has brought me to this observation about stem cells: there are basically two types of them.

Embryonic stem cells are those found in the fertilized egg, or the embryo, of a newly-conceived fetus in a female’s uterus. These are the controversial stem cells, because the harvesting of them for medical use will most likely alter or terminate the embryo’s fetal development.  Embryonic stems cells are pluripotent, insofar as they have potential to differentiate into many types of cells that are necessary for a fully developed body to, after birth, sustain life. These cells can be directed by the DNA genetic code to become, for instance,  blood cells,  skin cells,  muscle,  nerve, or whatever cells. My limited studies have  indicated that the  main value of embryonic stem cells is found in their use for medical research.

In the novel that I wrote while studying this, I include a hypothetical conversation between two graduate students in microbiology. In chapter 24, Erik is explaining  stem cells to his friend Sam:

 “. . .these guys that are doing this type of work, they remove the stem cells from the ICM (inner cell mass) that has congregated inside the 5-or-6-day old blastocyst—“

“So they’re sacrificing the embryo?” Sam wondered.

“I guess you could call it that,”

“What do they do with the outer part?”

“Oh, the trophoblast, God only knows.  I suppose they use it for something or other in the lab, or maybe they culture those cells for some other developmental purpose. I don’t know.  Anyway,  they place the totipotent stem cells into culture and propogate them.”

“That’s what we call a stem cell line,” observed Sam.

“Uhhuh, but it’s tricky.  Those cells have a built-in tendency toward differentiation.  If they’re kept alive unto themselves, without chemical restraints, they’ll start to organize themselves into an embryo again.”

This “differentiation” potential of stem cells is their most useful attribute. At the same time, it is the very thing that makes them somewhat dangerous.

I mentioned above that there is another  type of stem cells: adult stem cell.  Their differentiation potential is quite limited, as compared to the embryonic type, but they are much safer for medical applications, mainly because they are obtained from a patient’s body, and then injected back into that same patient. So there’s no conflict between the genetic info in the medically modified stem cells and the genetic data resident in that patient’s other billions of cells.  This second type of stem cell, the “adult” type, exists in the body of every child and adult. They enable the growth of new bodily tissue, and they exist in every part of the body.

Yesterday, June 17 2011, I was fascinated as I listened to a very informative discussion  on the radio about new medical treatments  utilizing these adult stem cells to repair damaged tissue.

Ira Flatow was again demonstrating his customary excellence in science journalism. The depth and scope of  his NPR reporting  keeps  his show, Science Friday, on the cutting edge of popular science education. I always obtain galactical levels of new information and insight when I can listen to his Friday program, or catch it later online.

The spot I heard yesterday was SciFri 061711 Hour 1: Black Holes, Untested Cell Therapies, Solar Update, which I had clicked on at

http://www.sciencefriday.com/about/listen.

 

Ira was speaking to two medical doctors about Bartolo Colon, the great NY Yankees pitcher whose injured pitching arm required medical treatment. Ira explained that since the pitcher was in the latter years of his baseball career, surgery to correct his elbow problem might be too risky. So Bartolo had elected to have this relatively untested therapy performed on his arm by doctors  in Dominican Republic.  And guess what, it worked! Bartholo has made an impressive comeback in his pitching career, at the age of 37.

Dr. Rick Lehman, an orthopedic surgeon at the US  Center for Sports Medicine (in St. Louis), described how cells taken from Bartolo’s own body had been medically treated and then injected back into his injured shoulder and elbow. The immature stem cells, as the doc explained, act to recruit blood  supply, enhance healing of ligaments, and improve the natural healing mechanics inside the patient’s body.

Dr. Scott Rodeo, orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery (in New York City) contributed to their fleshing out of the subject with specific comments about Bartolo Colon’s surgery, but also with some interesting facts about the different kinds of stem cells.  For instance, risk of cancer is far lower with the use of these adult stem cells than the risk from using  more primitive stem cells, such as those pluripotent ones found in embryos.

As a writer whose research had skirted these areas pioneering medicine, I was fortunate to have heard their productive talk on NPR about the  minimally surgical restoration of a great pitcher’s arm.

And congratulations to Bartolo Colon, whose baseball career has been renewed.

Glass Chimera

Robby’s dream

November 28, 2010

From chapter 25 of Glass Chimera:

Robby had a dream.

It was the hammer and sickle thing.  Freedom verses Slavery:     Embryos crying out for personhood, but being herded instead into  chimeric concentration  camps under glass,  their chromatic hammers swinging with molecular  blacksmithery,  forging the  plasmidic implements of a bogus new world.

Eggs of Women crying out for fertility and progeny, but instead being scythed into  Auschwitzian  abyss.

And he heard their singing:

Hmphh .. . Ah .. .Hmphh .. . Ah .. .

That’s the sound of the men working on the chain

gang.

That’s the sound of the men working on the chain

gang.

And he knew the grunts of thousands of men a-groanin’;  he heard the songs of millions of  women a-moanin’,  giving birth. He heard the cries of their wounds,  the pangs of their wombs. Slaves, they were.  He heard them singing.  Don’t ya hear Jerusalem moan?  Don’t ya hear Jerusalem moan? No, it weren’t all voluntary.  No, Virginia, it weren’t all voluntary.  Hmphh .. . Ah .. . Hmphh .. . Ah .. . Pull that barge.  Tote that bale. He saw the burlap cotton sacks dragged upon the ground. Hmphh .. . Ah .. . Hmphh .. . Ah .. . He heard Moses demanding of the pharaoh, Let my people go. He heard Moses demanding of the pharaoh, Let my people go. He heard America singing,  follow the drinking gourd, follow the drinking gourd.

He saw the strong brown arm of Washington Jones pull his great grandfather from the  flood that swirled about a faltering riverboat. He felt the loss of  footing as the boat careened upon raging waters, felt the lurch as the boat hit the mama oak and came to a sloshing, creaking crashing halt.

He saw, beyond the torrential horizon,  the sod ripped from prairies by oxen teams, and he heard their bellowing, the cracking of the whips as Herculean animals strained and primordial prairie grasses became torn, the black earth turning up its wormy, smarmy loam to be kissed by the sun and drenched by the spring rains, the winter snows, the corn’s roots, the wheat’s shoots.  He heard America singing,  strains of music born of the resolve of freedmen, homesteaders, pioneers, farmers, Scandinavians, Scotch, Irish, African, indentured to the soil, and to their hopes for promised land.

Oklahoma! He heard Oklahoma, thousands of homesteaders spread in expectation across the dawning prairie horizon, buckboard wagons, horses, mules in anticipation of that great sounding signal from Uncle Sam, brought forth beneath the billowing skirts of fertile farming women, freckle-faced children in the shaded wagons, oxen in the sun, horses on the run.

Freedom? Yes, some were free, but ‘t’weren’t all that sweat dripping into from free brows, Virginia. Much of it had come slitherin’  in wet slavery drops of toil and blood and tears.

He heard low, slow, insidious  munching of the dreaded boll weevil, chomping into oblivion acres upon millions of acres of lily-white wads of forced servitude.

He heard, like God, innocent blood crying out from the ground.

He heard the clanking of chains, the clashing of  cultures and civilizations.  Can you hear the Cherokee moan?  Can you hear the Chickasaw moan?. He felt the tearing of their platted cords, the stomping of their ancestral hordes. It was a mournful cry heard round the world.

He heard the  low, slow  voice of Willie’s embryonic call, Freedom!

He heard the  high, spry  response of Bo’s ironic refrain,  Freedom! blasting forth in totipotent nuclear song.  The strains were there, ringing  in his dream, clear as a splitting bell, bringing forth the clarion knell.  He knew he heard the song; then it was gone.

Oil-bustin’ mycoplasm laboratorium, someday?

May 24, 2010

The nano-revolution is presently poised to catapult genetics biology into an exponential expansion.
Thanks to Professors Craig Venter, Hamilton Smith, and their colleagues, we now know we can “boot up” software in a living cell.
According to this week’s Economist article about their gene-bustin’ research, we’ve now crossed “a milestone on the road from the craft of biotechnology, which manipulates genes one at a time, to the industry of synthetic biology, which aims to make wholesale changes to living things.”
Pretty big progress, coming from a little mycoplasma.
These persistent researchers have now demonstrated that synthetic chromosomes can be gathered and harnessed, like oxen or a mules bred for specific purposes, to perform genetic tasks in the laboratory.
The scientists started with a computer program, and four chemicals–adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine. They whipped up a laboratory concoction, inserted it into a host organism, and came up with a designer life-form.

Intelligent design, don’t you know.
Surely this is a Nobel Prize breakthrough. These guys put together a self-replicating cell whose parent is a computer.

Perhaps one day, they, or those researchers who come after them, will engineer, let’s say, a new algae organism that can produce biofuels on a commercially viable scale.  The naturally-occurring algae are, you see, not inclined to do such a thing. But with a little nudging from us human taskmasters, they could be persuaded to maybe plow up our hydrocarbonal fallow ground for us.
These constructed genes can, as David Baltimore said on the Diane Rehm Show, “drive a cell.”
I think we’ll be, in days to come, like the pioneers of old, who would drive a mule to get the back forty plowed, except that our new customized chromosomal critters will be breaking new ground for medical and environmental progress. Agricultural too, no doubt.

Steve Roberts, sitting in for Diane Rehm this (Monday) morning, facilitated an incredibly instructive discussion about this most recent accomplishment. David Rejeski referred to the breakthrough as “gaining control of matter at a nano level.” Steve Roberts mentioned that we are moving forward toward “controlling the building blocks” of the next industrial revolution.

David Baltimore recounted that we have been on a path of microbiological progress that turned a big corner in 1953. That’s when Watson and Crick described the molecular structure of DNA.  Since that time we’ve learned to read that genetic code, and to even recreate it. Now, according to Baltimore, we can “see the trajectory of it (our accumulating knowledge.)”

Scientists work collaboratively toward synthesizing more and more genes. It will be a lot of work, for a long time. In the human genome–the main one we’re trying to sustain and protect– are contained 3 billion base-pairs of nucleotides.

This blob-buster microcoding has been a long time in the making–three and a half billion years, accoding to Craig Ventor, the originator of the mycoplasma laboratoriam project.

What an amazing age we live in.

However, not to oil on our parade or anything, but meanwhile down in the gulf…
Other, less controlled human experiments spew hydrocarbon muck irretrievably  into the murky waters just south of Louisiana.
Maybe one day we’ll concoct a nano chromosome to corral a brand-new organism into eating up oil spills.
It will be a petri-dish organism, a Glass Chimera.