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Gene Therapy Treatment Passed Clinical Trials, Priced at $1 Million

Discussion in 'Current Affairs' started by zenosia, Jan 6, 2017.

  1. I was trying to give Vendor a chance to stop and re-think his statement, since "commercialization of pregnancy and childbirth" is something that's been happening since, I dunno, before the dawn of recorded history. Srsly, can anyone here remember what a "wet nurse" was is? How about a dowry? The term "child-bearing hips" being used as a compliment? Sure, it's been temporarily on the downswing since the proliferation of knowledge about germ therapy hugely cut down on mother and child mortality during childbirth, but there has always been tremendous economic impact attached to producing the next generation safe and sound. And indeed, if we look at the prospects of historical upper-class women who were able to bear children vs. the ones who couldn't, it's pretty clear which ones were better rewarded with social recognition and standing by society. We're in a situation now where women have even more power than they had then relative to males (in terms of social standing, personal economic capability, legal protections, and political advocacy), and you're telling me we should be worried that modern-day wet nurses would be worse off than their solid treatment historically? It don't compute, man.

    And realistically, the current paradigm of surrogate mothers is really advantageous to the surrogate. Even leaving aside legal protections and the like, the (well-off and presumably well-informed) clients will be well aware that any harm applied to the mother will be passed on to the fetus, which makes receiving a healthy product dependent on picking a good donor and ensuring their health and well-being. Srsly, you think people would "exploit and abuse" surrogates? I feel pretty confident assuming that anyone going through the enormous expense and trouble of producing a viable offspring in this manner can manage to google "stress during childbirth effects" and realize that hey presto, even a moderate amount of stress during pregnancy will have long-lasting complications for your child.

    Compare that to, say, a job where your boss can freely work you until you're half-dead before discarding you (so, most jobs), and you can see why I'm getting a bit confused here. Under the surrogacy paradigm, the client with the real-world power is strongly incentivized to not only care about the surrogate's physical health, but her mental health too, because issues that would normally be overlooked in a regular employee (controlled alcoholism, abusive neighbors or friends, etc.) become the client's problem by direct extension.

    The client has every incentive to handsomely pay the surrogate and to set them up in a nice place for a year, which is way better treatment than I've received for the bog-standard job where I get routinely screamed at, bled and puked on, infected, and physically and mentally abused. Iunno man, boo hoo the poor surrogate will have her abdominus rectus split by pregnancy and won't be able to get a six-pack I guess? Gosh how terrible, I'd hate to get paid $1,000,000 and treated like royalty for a year, keep them monies away Brer Rabbit!

    I'd be infinitely less concerned about someone being paid handsomely to carry a kid than to, say, donate a kidney (or an everything). Unlike with surrogacy, the paradigm of organ donation provides no nine-month stretch where the donor's health and welfare is made to be vitally important for the client, and the client may be freely abused by various means without harming the desired end product. Their consent may be freely abrogated, and indeed in "developing nations" with rich urban centers shoving up against minimally-regulated and desperately poor rural zones, we can see many apocryphal (and occasionally proven) stories of black market organ trading occurring. If you're looking for medically-related ethical issues to care about, I can find oodles of shit which actually occurs today which isn't such a non-issue as "help help think of the poor surrogates."
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2017
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  2. Hotdog Vendor

    Hotdog Vendor Yo momma is fanon

    Location:
    Down Under
    I don't think "we've always done it" is a good argument.
    Okay.
    Good point.
    You're right. But I thought you were the one who brought up surrogates. It doesn't have to be the most urgent issue in the world for me to have and express a (poorly thought out) opinion on it. Still, sorry for the derail, I shouldn't have piped up at all.

    So, back to our regularly scheduled discussion of gene therapy. I've heard there's promising gene therapy treatments for obesity, which is nifty.
     
  3. Fell

    Fell A Work of Meepmorp

    Closest thing I've heard to that is that they've identified several genes involved in obesity, and early testing could prevent a lot of childhood obesity via medication; particularly blood sugar moderators for diabetics.
     
  4. Vyslanté

    Vyslanté Putting the "late" back in "translate"

    That is entirely true. And that is exactly why the mere concept of profit-driven health industry infuriates me to no ends. Health (and education, for that matter), should absolutely not be sectors in which the goal is "make money".
     
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  5. Fell

    Fell A Work of Meepmorp

    Healthcare, like libraries, are things which money is meant to be poured into, not derived from.
     
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  6. While I principally agree that measures should be taken to distance the healthcare system from the profit-oriented logic of the free market (where that logic does work very well), the problem of incentives remains. How to incentive people to pour mega-money into developing new drugs if there is no profit? And while I don't think state management of everything is inherently inferior, if only the state does it, then you have all the problems and inefficiencies of a central command economy in that sector.
     
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  7. Volt Cruelerz

    Volt Cruelerz Software Engineer Hoosier in Florida

    Location:
    Florida
    I'll admit I'd never considered having the government directly manufacture medicine, though I have given a lot of thought to government-paid medicine and education (and the other things where supply and demand curves are irregularly shaped, making capitalism a terrible model for handling them).

    I suppose in an ideal world, government could manufacture drugs, but I rather question the realism of that approach in the West. Maybe China could pull it off, but there's no way in hell the drug industry lets it happen in America. Even if it did, I also question if the government would fund research sufficiently in this case or if they'd just drop taxes and therefore funding. Given the budgets of America's existing scientific agencies, I'm guessing a National Pharmaceutical Research Agency would not get enough money to do as much research as existing companies do.
     
  8. Vyslanté

    Vyslanté Putting the "late" back in "translate"

    If things are State managed, you don't need incentive – or rather, the only incentive is being told by said state "do that". The next question is of course, "but if there's no profit, where does the money comes from ?"... to which the answer is "taxes" (the answer is often taxes. I like taxes.)

    Alas, we don't live in the wonderful land where Communism Works™ and where people are happy to pay taxes for the betterment of society.
     
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  9. vicky_molokh

    vicky_molokh The *other* transhuman[ist]

    Location:
    Kyïv, Ukraine
    And the other question is "how do make sure that the people who just do it try to do it in the most efficient way possible money-wise, instead of measuring their success by the amount of money they managed to convince the government to give them"?
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
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  10. Vyslanté

    Vyslanté Putting the "late" back in "translate"

    I could answer "We just have to hold public services to the same standard as private ones", but that is a remarkably useless answer. Like, 'yeah, and how do you do that ?'
    Yeah I don't have answers
     
  11. Fell

    Fell A Work of Meepmorp

  12. RRoan

    RRoan Technogaianist

    A government might well have just looked at the cost/benefit of making this and decided it wasn't worth developing in the first place.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
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  13. Really, controlling a lot of the epigenetic factors during pregnancy and early childhood would probably do more than any amount of gene-twiddling at the level we current are capable of (or will be in the next couple decades). Some factors seem to linger over a generation or two (I think?), but good nutrition and other health factors during pregnancy (including, yes, minimizing exposure to booze, most other recreational drugs and assorted stuff) would give all kids at least a generally same starting point.

    Hit the major development needs during childhood and you can get most kids approaching adulthood to at least be able to jog on the track and (in theory) catch up with the ones that've been running from the start. Little things like making sure kids aren't hungry in school (they ain't learning as well when they're malnourished), the adults in their life have time to interact with them, socially practiced with peers and so on.

    While economics can give an easy solution to "what is the most efficient way to do things, and how do I make people do it that way", I would draw a parallel to creating and 'teaching' a neural network - while it's a relatively easy way to go about getting a working solution, it (a) isn't the only way and (b) for a good solution requires defining and controlling the "natural" process fairly carefully.

    There's a lot of perverse incentives and other complications waiting in the wings for a "the market will sort it out" approach. Really, beyond a general level of 'adequate' functionality, you're going to have similar questions regardless of how 'public' or 'private' your healthcare solution is, unless you want to gamble that it'll manage to work out.
     
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  14. Volt Cruelerz

    Volt Cruelerz Software Engineer Hoosier in Florida

    Location:
    Florida
    [emphasis mine]

    I am very inclined to disagree with this assertion. CRISPR and Cas9 aren't perfect yet, but we've been engineering them to drop their error rates, and they and future editors are only going to increase in precision. Thanks to the Human Genome Project and continuing efforts, we're getting a good idea of the links between genotypes and phenotypes in our species. For traits as complex as health, intelligence, and physical appearance, a human being basically gets a Gaussian random number. You'll get a some bad genes, a lot of average ones, and some good ones, so in general, you can get by in life, perhaps you're even lucky enough that your negatives don't mean much in modern life while you might be blessed with higher-than-normal intelligence. But it's still a crapshoot. It's still a lottery.

    With genetic tampering, you can win. Every. Single. Time. This isn't some trivial thing, and perhaps people forget that with designer babies, you aren't making Einsteins or Hawkings. You're making children even better because even they aren't perfect in every regard. Even just by taking the best of what's already in the human genome, you're looking at making a super-race just because in no natural human being will you hit ALL jackpots. A normal kid can't compete with someone who has an IQ of 220. Eight standard deviations will put you beyond the intelligence of any human being who has ever lived. A normal kid cannot even dream of competing against someone who was engineered for intelligence, even using only our existing genome, let alone the crazy stuff that could start happening if genetic engineers start adding synthetic ones. In 20 years, we may not have live humans walking around with synthetic genes, but I can almost guarantee we'll have ones engineered from our own genome that have been born.

    And they will be perfect. Once you start tampering with your child's genome, you run into a slippery slope almost immediately. Health? Intelligence? Beauty? All have been correlated with success in life. You want the best for them, right? Besides, if you don't, someone else will, and then your precious child will be the one left in the dust, stuck forever as someone with natural genetics. You don't want that, right? You don't want them to hate you for that, do you? Of course you don't. So you give them everything. Everything. Every jackpot, every lottery, every lightning strike, the very best of what the human race has to offer. All of it. From the very moment of their conception, they are head-and-shoulders above natural humans, and it isn't even a contest. No amount of toying with epigenetics in the real world is going to ever come close to matching an engineered human.

    How could a normal kid hope to compete with the kid with a perfect body, with a perfect mind? An athelete that excels in sports. An intellectual that scores perfectly. A beauty that attracts admirers incessantly. A single person that is all of them.


    The only argument against this is that we won't have it in 20 years, but even now, scientists are working to improve CRISPR+Cas9. Is it possible that we haven't gotten it down enough for mainstream adoption in 20 years? Sure, but we will be capable of it. You might have to try 200 times before it comes out right, but if you're a billionaire, and your country isn't hostile to abortions, well...

    Also, now that I think about it, this might be the thing that ends up spurring cloning of humans. The first generation of designer humans is liable to be insanely expensive, but if a company marketed clones of their originals, they could do so for far less than it would cost to produce an original. Depending on how things fall out, you might see the first world's genetic diversity implode during the first generation of designer babies, simply because you could get a perfect child that's still basically your child, just better, for 20 million dollars, or you could get a clone of an original for only 20,000, presumably gender-bent if you so desire for no additional charge since that's just a chromosome swap. For a middle-class family, the choice is obvious.

    Note to self: write a short story about that.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
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  15. The problem would be: if everyone was perfect (same platinum pedigree of perfect human) , everyone would die when nature springs it's new virus.

    Hell, in my City we laugh at white people because they get Dengue, as us, mestizos already have from birth the defenses against the four strains of dengue. The rest of the country is burning with Zika, but everyone that lives on the Amazon is laughing, because, Dengue, Yellow Fever, Malaria, and a bunch of other diseases, might not make you a beauty, but makes the surviving offspring hela resilient.
     
  16. Volt Cruelerz

    Volt Cruelerz Software Engineer Hoosier in Florida

    Location:
    Florida
    True, but...
    1. Just because people are perfect doesn't mean they're identical For the most part, our genomes are pretty much meh, without any direct impact on the things we'd care about in a first generation (health, intelligence, and beauty), so engineered humans would generally resemble their parents in terms of appearance and temperament, unless the parents had opted to specifically override that (or if the child is a clone, obviously). I, for instance, have orange hair, broad shoulders, a long trunk, and dark brown eyes. Were I able to engineer a child to be my own, I'd be perfectly content leaving all of those traits to naturally occur, except maybe the red hair because of cancer risk, but if the Platinum Cancerproof package is good enough, I'd be content to leave it. I suspect most people would do the same.
    2. There's 1,826 billionaires in the world right now, and presumably, there will be a lot more in 20 years, so let's say that in 20 years, 300 will be of child-rearing age, and none of them are married to each other. Even if they each only have one designer child, that's still 300 unique genomes. In practice, I'd guess you'll likely see 700 or so unique genomes in the first generation, unless by some miracle it becomes way cheaper than I'd expect. (In practice, you'll likely be able to get a lot more options than that for a clone than those 700 because they'll generally be unique in the unimportant ways, so total chromosome swaps would presumably be easy, allowing for easy gender bending or adding in trait bundles; as a result, you're liable to see thousands or millions of actual options for a prospective parent of a "Recombinant Clone."
    3. Presumably every virus for which there is a gene that inhibits it will be blocked as part of the Platinum Immunity package.
    4. Malaria (and possibly a few other diseases) will almost certainly be eradicated via gene drive within 20 years. (Seriously, the ethical balance sheet is so laughably blacker-than-black on the prospect of eradicating Malaria...)
    5. Designer and Clone humans will only occupy a single generation at first, so while a Spanish Flu nightmare scenario could happen, the human race as a whole would survive.
    6. Designer and Clone humans will only appear in the first world in the first generation in the middle and upper classes, so the third and developing world will largely be fine, should a nightmare situation arise.
    7. It's not that hard to engineer a super-virus that just wipes out everything, even in the present day. True, clones would make it easier, but at the end of the day, this is a comparatively negligible risk. The real risk is nature evolving a new one.
    8. We'll be better at vaccines by then.
     
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  17. That why i used the "platinum pedigree standard" because we will have a standard for a perfect human, we have standards for beauty, for clothes, for "likes", so when we hit that phase we surely will have a standard, and the problem is, when we make a standard for this, everyone will look alike, because, being perfect includes social inclusion, and no one would want to " 40K super-marine" when the trend is having "elvish look" so if a virus targets a certain type of genome, we might have the purge of entire generations, but i might be little pessimist with this.
     
  18. Volt Cruelerz

    Volt Cruelerz Software Engineer Hoosier in Florida

    Location:
    Florida
    Nah. Look at dog breeds. Sure, some like Golden Retrievers are super common, but not everyone wants a golden retriever. For non-essential traits, you'll still see variety.
     
  19. If the talks goes like this, them we have to say that a golden retriever is a family oriented dog, and that's it's function, being a family dog. So when we talk about the "perfection trend" of human engineering, the best anecdote in a social darwnist view, would be the aberration called pug, or that rat called Yorkshire, or the useless Chihuahua, because we are talking about trends, and when we use trend dogs, you expect to see the destruction of good function dogs, to simple useless pets.

    And humans wanting to get into the trend of having a "perfect children pedigree" would't go to the scale of usefulness, but to the scale of nacissism.
     
  20. OOM-01

    OOM-01 The Prettiest Anti-Villain

    Location:
    Preening.
    Well. I'll admit all this talk about gene therapy and designer babies makes me...insanely uneasy.

    Brings me back to a thread back on SB where most of the forum would be fine with gay men, like myself, going extinct through such a process (every baby being designed to be straight, etc) and the like.

    Here's hoping I don't have to leave SV over bullshit like that I guess...?
     
  21. Avernus

    Avernus Abomination

    But "look alike" isn't a disease vector. We could all look like literal copies and still have drastically different immune systems.
     
  22. vicky_molokh

    vicky_molokh The *other* transhuman[ist]

    Location:
    Kyïv, Ukraine
    I would think that given the changing trends, it's more likely that every baby will be eventually designed to be bisexual than straight in 50-100 years of cultural shifts. "Let them make their own choices instead of being constrained to whatever nature or the designers give them". (Yes, I know that's not how choices work, but this seems like a sentiment that humanity tends to favour, cast in the light of the worldview that is becoming more and more accepted/dominant.)
     
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  23. Volt Cruelerz

    Volt Cruelerz Software Engineer Hoosier in Florida

    Location:
    Florida
    While I don't disagree that humans might eventually look radically different, but that's going to take several generations. At the end of the day, we still have internal wiring saying what is and isn't attractive, and people are going to be loathe to go against the grain on that. Giving your kid some weird appearance would be like naming them Lemonjello, only worse, since more people see your face than know your name and it's a lot easier to hide a name than a face. Sure, some crazies will do it, but the vast majority of the population will stick to conventional beauty standards.
    I wouldn't worry about that. Like the poster above me, I'd be inclined to think that bisexuality would be made more prevalent. "You want your kid to have the best shot in life, right? Why not give them the most romantic options too?" Total homosexuality might eventually be removed, but I think it would only be something along the way to the general populace being bisexual, to the point that eventually being totally heterosexual would be something that you only read about in stories as well.

    But that's also over several generations and may require synthetic genes to accomplish.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
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  24. Dark Lord Bob

    Dark Lord Bob Ambition

    I for one welcome our new queer overlords.
     
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  25. Fell

    Fell A Work of Meepmorp

    I discussed a horrifying implications fantasy setting with a friend the other day where the many sundry varieties of elf (Forest, High, Grey, Sea, Drow, etc.) is due to a bunch of dragons with too much time on their immortal hands becoming pigeon fanciers, but with people.
     
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