Radiation Resistant Blood (think The 100)

So, I've been watching a lot of The 100 lately. In the latest season (no spoilers), they talk about a specific blood-based gene therapy (you know what I'm talking about if you watch the show) that gives people radiation immunity and also a plethora of other things like survivability of a specific implant (please watch the show, I'm begging you! It's great). But, lets talk about the blood, because I want to make it.  

Firstly, the radiation resistance. I've been reading up on a study that was working on a new way to treat radiation sickness. In the study, they took a sample of e. coli and subjected it to radiation. After 99 percent of the sample died, they let the population grow back. After twenty iterations of rinse and repeat, the team created a sample of e. coli that could reverse the effects of radiation. Then, you take a sample of your blood. You then bind the e. coli to the sample and inject it into yourself. Now, you have a bigger radiation tolerance than most people.


  • So, do you have a link to this study? 
  • I imagine there are quite a few studies that do this, but here's one.

    It's pretty trivial to do in practical terms.
  • edited March 2017
    Ok, increase the resistance of  e. Coli.. gotcha. Where do you get the conclusion that innonculating yourself will somehow grant you immunity to radiation?
  • "Then, you take a sample of your blood. You then bind the e. coli to the sample and inject it into yourself."

    I'm not sure what part of the blood you're suppose to be binding the e coli to, but it would most likely be the leukocytes, which would just break down the e coli and you'd have regular old blood after that.
  • From the abstract: 

    " In these evolved populations, passive genomic protection is not in evidence. Instead, enhanced recombinational DNA repair makes a prominent but probably not exclusive contribution to genome reconstitution."

    This points out that there isn't a barrier between the E. coli nucleus and ionizing radiation, but rather that the bacteria developed methods to fix its genome after exposure. Even if you did somehow get this into your blood without an immune response (and there will be an immune response), the E. coli would do nothing to enhance your radiation resistance. 
  • edited March 2017
    Well, we could irradiate groups of children and breed the survivors.
  • @Cassox The world seems to frown on that kinda thing XD
  • There might actually be a way of using human cells to do this, but you'd have to be a lot more involved in the process than bacteria. 
  • Actually, you might be able to skip the e. coli and subject human leukocytes directly to the radiation, then bind them to regular leukocytes. Just a thought.
  • What do you mean by "bind?"
  • Ok, so here's how the original study worked.. irradiate a shit load of bacteria. Most will die.. the ones that don't obviously have some kind of genetic predisposition to survive. Obviously, those that survived are all that's left to breed right? Ok, so the next generation is hit with radiation.. most bacteria dies.. those with a genetic predisposition allowing them to survive breed.. rinse and repeat many many times.

    It's quite literally evolution in action. Now, most people I've noticed fail to really understand what evolution is.. an organism doesn't evolve. A species does. Bacteria divide as often as every 20 minutes so this radiation trick is cool in that we can see evolution occur because we see differences after a few hundred generations.

    Now, the leukocyte example won't wok. The reason is because leukocytes don't beget leukocytes.. no, people beget leukocytes. So what we'd have to do is irradiate a few million people heavily and breed the survivors for a few hundred generations. Why millions? Because the more organisms involved, the more likely we are to actually see a change occur. The likelihood of genetic changes occurring is actually rather low. So by selective breeding we can emphasize certain traits like long noses or whatever, but we can't expect to see any radical new traits emerge in a small population.

    I like these ideas and am not trying to shoot anything down, but we have much more realistic tools - genetic engineering. Basically, what you're talking about is figuring out how to get cells to repair their own DNA. We have cells that do that already. Sperm and Ovum. These have a mechanism by which they fix damaged DNA. Cool right? So we just need to figure out how to express this mechanism in all of our cells.. welcome to life extension research. People have already been working on this for years. In fact, Elizabeth Parish has already tried something similar. It's worth looking her up.

    But bottom line.. the way this is currently being discussed is a dead end. Interestingly though, Nonkat is going to be discussing something quite similar to this at Grindfest. Instead of the Bacteria races, we're going to be doing something much cooler.
  • edited March 2017
    Or you could just take large daily doses of potassium iodide (37.5mg) which bind to your thyroid receptors in place of radioactive iodine (Iodine-131) which is a major byproduct of nuclear fission.

    I keep a bottle of iodine pills and lugol's iodine solution with me in the event of a nuclear disaster. It would at least reduce my chances of developing cancer.
  • edited March 2017
    Something that also isn't being addressed is the kind of radiation. Like, what kind of radiation do you want to be immune to? Do you want to not absorb radioactive isotopes? or do you actually want to be able to be exposed to the radiation itself and not get sick? 

    The former is a lot harder cause there's so much variety. And for anything other than iodine, it can be really really hard to keep out only the bad stuff. Like strontium for example. If it gets into you, and doesn't get excreted, it quickly gets incorporated into your bones. But your body doesn't have a good way to get it back out. So it just stays there for anywhere from a few weeks to 50 years. It also has a half life of about 30 years, so it'll just sit an cause chaos for years. So to be resistant to things like that, you'd need to develop a much improved way of removing heavy metals and other unwanted isotopes from the body. Would probably mean the addition of dozens of new pathways to deal with each different kind of ion. And even then, a lot of the problem is that some isotopes behave very similair to others. Like strontium and calcium. Your body can't really tell the difference, hence why it gets stuck in bones. So it's not simple to pick and choose.

    The later on the other hand is maybe an easier target (still functionally impossible, but for sake of discussion). Since we're talking genetic modification anyway, here's an idea. What if you added a metabolic pathway that would take soluable bismuth, and transport it to the layers of skin that are still alive, but about to be transported upwards to be shed off. Have it then be precipitated as bismuth oxide and have it capped with a protein or poly saccharide to keep it away from everything else. Basically fill your skin with little particles of bismuth oxide to act as radiation shielding. Bismuth can be used just as effectively as lead for shielding, but is less toxic. Would make you a bit heavier, but also probably a little bit more tolerant of radiation if there was enough of it there. At least, radiation coming from outside. You'd need to eat a shitload of bismuth though, and regularly to keep it replenished.
    Alterantively store the particles in lower layers of skin that don't get shed as often or other tissues/system wide. Would reduce the amount you'd need to eat to replenish it, especially if you could recycle some of it as cells die and are broken down. And if it was more widespread it would make you even more resistant. However clogging up everything with bismuth particles sounds like it could go bad 1000 ways. 

    If you did go for the system wide version, it may actually help with absorbed radioactive isotopes. Any radiation emitted internally would all of a sudden have a way higher likelyhood of being stopped by bismuth, rather than smashing into DNA. That said if you went system wide, you'd be noticeably heavier. And you'd need to eat a massive amount of bismuth to get up to the right level. And the risk of system wide mineralization as bismuth particles build up could be a real problem. Lots of issues to solve, but in the end, could make you kinda radiation resistant. If used in addition to DNA repair stuff, could boost the effect of either approach. 

    I dunno, just my 2 cents
  • I have a brilliant idea. make a wetsuit type clothing item with a rubberized inner and outer layer with a thing middle layer of lead. I know a thing layer wont block all radiation but it should be able to block alpha and beta. It wouldn't replace a full radiation suit but would but much more comfortable.
  • There are also a lot of clothing items sold for people who work in radiology.. but this like body armor. It only works if you wear it. I wouldn't wear a rad suit in my daily life.
  • edited March 2017
    I'm not sure how much it would help, but there's a strontium salt that's used in treating osteoperosis called Strontium ranelate. It stimulate bone growth, and since strontium is similar to calcium in size and chemical interaction, it gets dragged into the bones. It's a heavier element, you'd increase your bone density, which I'd imagine would protect your bone marrow from radiation damage slightly better. But, you'd have to make sure you balanced your calcium and strontium intake, because I'd bet that you'd start having heart problems. You also might be able to use a different salt so that you didn't get any increased bone growth (A quick glance shows that Strontium was detected in the bones of rats in a study where they were given Strontium Chloride). You get the added benefit that you've saturated your system with strontium, so any radioactive strontium in the environment doesn't have as high a chance of staying in your body. 
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