Radiation Resistant Blood (think The 100)
edited March 2017 in Genetic and biology based mods
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I dunno, just my 2 cents