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Old 08-21-2022, 04:05 AM   #11
scc
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Default Re: [Bio-Tech] Human Genetic Engineering When?

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Originally Posted by SilvercatMoonpaw View Post
If you're supposing people being behind a mission to Alpha Centaury in this century, I think you've already accelerated things so much you can just make up a date you want for the gene engineering.
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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
If you want this to be possible in the next 78 years, with some degree of plausibility, you need your future history to have a huge breakthrough in the understanding of genetics and animal development. That needs to include a complete understanding of proteins and their reactions, and many other things. Modifying creatures needs to become about as easy as designing metal alloys is now.
So this makes the answer for a related question very obvious. I've already decided that there will be an alien mega-structure somewhere in my setting, this means that it will in the Alpha Centauri and it's detection is what prompts the mission. Kind of hard to use a robot probe to investigate this.

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
On the other, though, would you want to count on the spliced traits working the way they're meant to? Or would you want to test them? It might take fifty years or so to make sure that your Longevity tweak really gave Longevity and not, say, sudden heart failure in middle age. Human beings have quite a long design-test cycle.
Well I realized after I posted and had gone to bed that Longevity isn't as needed as I first thought, so I can remove that from must the have list.
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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
We don't know?

On one hand, we have gene splicing now, and it can be used with human cells for experimental purposes—that's in tissue cultures, not in fertilized ova. It could be argued that it's only ethical restrictions that have prevented its use on human beings.
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Originally Posted by Pursuivant View Post
In 2019, there was a case where a Chinese doctor "gene edited" three babies in utero to allegedly make them immune to HIV. The experiment "worked" in that the children appeared to be normal, but because of really bad experiment design, it's unknown what genetic effects they'll suffer as they grow up. Not surprisingly, the doctor was jailed for massive ethical violations.
So we could be close and we could be far away. I think the deciding factor here is if/when scientists can begin trying to figure out how to do this in humans. What animals can we currently safely do this on?

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Originally Posted by Pursuivant View Post
The bigger issue is that, AFAIK, science hasn't yet isolated the gene(s) responsible for hibernation in animals, nor have they created a means of overcoming bone loss and other problems in Zero-G. Some of the genes associated with longevity have been identified, but the who topic of lifespan extension is complicated, with many different genes playing a role. Some are actual longevity genes, others are genes which play a role in diseases of age such as atheroschlerosis or cancer.

Of course, because nobody's really looked that closely at gene-hacks, or other means, to overcome zero-G bone degeneration, it might be a simple problem to solve. One possibility to to tweak the genes responsible for Paget's Disease or Proteus Syndrome. That could create people who can only function normally in Zero-G, however, and would suffer painful and debilitating bone overgrowth in normal gravity. Hibernation might also be easy to solve if it's possible to somehow adapt the mammalian diving reflex. Longevity might be partially solvable with strict diet and exercise regimens, along with figuring out the reasons for lifespan extension due to calorie restriction.

Assuming continued improvements in gene-editing and computer modeling technology, and massive amounts of money being thrown at the project to create humans who can survive a generation ship trip to Alpha Centauri, a really stupid wild guess might be 20-30 years. A more conservative really stupid guess, assuming well-funded programs to adapt humans to space, but not a massive global effort, might by 40-60 years.
As my idea calls for at least limited numbers of humans moving into space, the money will be there for research into how to stop Zero G degeneration but I might half to say screw it and use spin tethers or something.

But hibernation is key, I want hibernation because it allows the crew to be dispatched with the belief that they will arrive in the target system still young enough to conduct a survey and then return to Earth, it's not much, but I really feel like it's something that should be aimed for.

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
We don't currently have a detailed understanding of the genetics of lifespan, or of zero-G syndrome, still less hibernation (which only happens in species that are not closely related to humanity). Providing these abilities is likely to involve major changes to human biology and biochemistry.

-snip-

That's a level where it still isn't easy, but there is solid knowledge of the limits of what's practical and the reasons why, and the plausible routes towards any given objective are clear to a skilled engineer. You then need a few decades of successful use of these methods on animals, with very few failures, before anyone will let you start upgrading humans.
I've got circumstances were governments and corporations are likely to be throwing serious money at this problem (see above), so I might just have to accept that less elegant solutions where used (drugs, cybernetics)

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
A ship run by a single "A.I." (and probably one with little or no social ability or penchant for introspection) is as likely as anything. It's "A.I" as artificial software people that's hard to predict because few if any people seriously involved in computer development want or even have a use for such things

scc has a similar problem with his human modificatons. Longevity would be on my list of early adoption traits for human genetic mods but the others not so much. If nobody really rich and connected wants (and is willing and able to pay for) such things nobody will even be working on them.
For dealing with really unknown stuff you don't want to use AI, you need people, and that's going to be known to be the case here.
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Old 08-21-2022, 05:01 AM   #12
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Default Re: [Bio-Tech] Human Genetic Engineering When?

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
hibernation (which only happens in species that are not closely related to humanity).
Also, biological hibernation isn't all that much like the GURPS Advantage called Hibernation. The thing that biological hibernation provides in bears is the ability to build up large fat reserves when food is plentiful, and then live on them, at a reduced metabolic rate, through winter conditions when food is not available. The animal wakes up very thin and starving hungry, and if winter were prolonged to several years, it would definitely die.

Achieving GURPS Hibernation in humans would be a big genetic design job. Understanding animal hibernation would give some clues on how to start the job, but they might be false leads.

You might well have an easier time modifying humans to help them withstand what SF sometimes calls "cryo-sleep." This involves a chilled coffin, a lot of drugs, and IV tubes used for nutrition, blood cleaning and so on. That's a plot device to get the characters to Alpha Centauri, which they can't use without a lot of equipment, and doesn't need to cost points.
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Old 08-21-2022, 09:55 AM   #13
Fred Brackin
 
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Originally Posted by scc View Post


So we could be close and we could be far away.
The Chinese doctor example might not argue for "close". If he did what I suspect he did it involved knocking out a single receptor site. It's been known for a while that 5% of people of Northern European descent lack this receptor site and appear to be immune to HIV because that's the receptor site HIV uses for "docking".

So this would be pretty much in _the_ simplest category of possible mods and wouldn't say much about more complex mods that would invovle adding genes not found in humanity's near relatives (or possibly any animal).
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Old 08-21-2022, 01:28 PM   #14
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Default Re: [Bio-Tech] Human Genetic Engineering When?

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Also, biological hibernation isn't all that much like the GURPS Advantage called Hibernation. The thing that biological hibernation provides in bears is the ability to build up large fat reserves when food is plentiful, and then live on them, at a reduced metabolic rate, through winter conditions when food is not available. The animal wakes up very thin and starving hungry, and if winter were prolonged to several years, it would definitely die.
Definitely. I imagine they would sleep for three months, be awake for a week or two to gorge themselves and go to the bathroom, and then go under for another three months. Or get IV nutrition. IV nutrition is probably a better idea - then you can also do some kind of dialysis to remove waste products from the blood.
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Old 08-21-2022, 03:48 PM   #15
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Default Re: [Bio-Tech] Human Genetic Engineering When?

I think I'd look at an alternative approach. Set it at some notional point in the near future when Longevity is a common trait (whether through genetics or medical intervention). Then have the vessel tech solve the other problems, e.g. make it huge enough to give rotational gravity somewhere around 0.7G and robust enough to shield against radiation. Hollow out an asteroid maybe.
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Old 08-22-2022, 03:47 AM   #16
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Default Re: [Bio-Tech] Human Genetic Engineering When?

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Also, biological hibernation isn't all that much like the GURPS Advantage called Hibernation. The thing that biological hibernation provides in bears is the ability to build up large fat reserves when food is plentiful, and then live on them, at a reduced metabolic rate, through winter conditions when food is not available. The animal wakes up very thin and starving hungry, and if winter were prolonged to several years, it would definitely die.

Achieving GURPS Hibernation in humans would be a big genetic design job. Understanding animal hibernation would give some clues on how to start the job, but they might be false leads.

You might well have an easier time modifying humans to help them withstand what SF sometimes calls "cryo-sleep." This involves a chilled coffin, a lot of drugs, and IV tubes used for nutrition, blood cleaning and so on. That's a plot device to get the characters to Alpha Centauri, which they can't use without a lot of equipment, and doesn't need to cost points.
So how exactly Hibernation works is actually not actual described.

And cyro-freezing of humans is not possible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tdiKTSdE9Y

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Originally Posted by Anders View Post
Definitely. I imagine they would sleep for three months, be awake for a week or two to gorge themselves and go to the bathroom, and then go under for another three months. Or get IV nutrition. IV nutrition is probably a better idea - then you can also do some kind of dialysis to remove waste products from the blood.
Or even less then that, might be waking up every few days just to eat a big meal.

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Originally Posted by Donny Brook View Post
I think I'd look at an alternative approach. Set it at some notional point in the near future when Longevity is a common trait (whether through genetics or medical intervention). Then have the vessel tech solve the other problems, e.g. make it huge enough to give rotational gravity somewhere around 0.7G and robust enough to shield against radiation. Hollow out an asteroid maybe.
This is back story to the setting, the players won't be doing this.
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Old 08-23-2022, 02:41 AM   #17
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Default Re: [Bio-Tech] Human Genetic Engineering When?

So assuming that I only go for the Hibernation, and do that through a mixture of technologies, mainly drugs and cybernetics, how soon could a mission like mine potentially launch?
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Old 08-23-2022, 07:44 AM   #18
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Default Re: [Bio-Tech] Human Genetic Engineering When?

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So assuming that I only go for the Hibernation, and do that through a mixture of technologies, mainly drugs and cybernetics, how soon could a mission like mine potentially launch?
Start the necessary research and development now and have it take however long you think it should take. Longer time periods will be more credible than shorter ones but breakthroughs are possible.

It might not matter since you've got a lot of things yet to be invented for the vehicle's propulsion system and development of space-based construction (or even jsut assembly) of said vehicle.
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Old 08-23-2022, 08:56 AM   #19
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Default Re: [Bio-Tech] Human Genetic Engineering When?

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So assuming that I only go for the Hibernation, and do that through a mixture of technologies, mainly drugs and cybernetics, how soon could a mission like mine potentially launch?
Offhand, let's say within the next 5 years there's the discovery both of an animal that has some human-compatible (although that wouldn't be immediately known) bio-stasis* genes as well as whatever method your drives end up using to reach Alpha Centauri, study it, and come back. I'd imagine each would need at least 10 years of study before they'd be ready for proper testing, but let's say the time from now to the time they're ready for proper testing is about 10 years. At that point you are able to splice the genes into the rat genome and get them to express the bio-stasis proteins; you're probably looking at a minimum of 5 years to confirm the bio-stasis functions in rats without serious deleterious effects (or find ways to avoid/mitigate the deleterious effects). Then you've got to do experimentation on something that is closer to human - perhaps pigs and/or primates - which is going to take longer than the rat study, even if things go rather well. Minimum 10 years, I would think. While all that was going on, you would have needed to convince the populace and their representative lawmakers that human testing for this would be a Good Idea, so now that your breakneck-rate testing phase is over, you can start human trials. That's going to take longer than the pigs, particularly as you need to make certain this doesn't screw with mental and physical development as well as confirm the stasis function works, so I'd imagine a minimum of 30 years, if everything goes perfectly. If you can draw your explorers from the first batch of experimental subjects (meaning you've probably been trying to train all of them for this mission), you could be ready to go at this point. So, at basically breakneck, reckless developmental speed, your crew would be ready to go somewhere around 55 years from now, or 2077. By that point, you'll also need to have perfected the drives, and established sufficient space infrastructure to be able to launch such a mission; I think 55 years to do that, provided the new drive technology makes space travel more economical early, is fast but not quite as extreme as for the biological component of it all.

*I'm using this term because I don't think hibernation slows aging much, and that's what we really need here.
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Old 08-23-2022, 09:32 AM   #20
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Default Re: [Bio-Tech] Human Genetic Engineering When?

For biostasis I would start by looking at tardigrades (water bears). They have really radical suspended animation capabilities.
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