[ExI] Fwd: DIY DNA synthesis (more)

Bryan Bishop kanzure at gmail.com
Thu Apr 16 18:50:47 UTC 2009

On Thu, Apr 16, 2009 at 11:18 AM, Natasha Vita-More <natasha at natasha.cc> wrote:
> How would you explain this idea of one type of bio-artifical eovlution as it
> relates to the human progeny?

Have you heard of Hugh Rienhoff?

article: http://www.wired.com/medtech/genetics/magazine/17-02/ff_diygenetics?currentPage=all
his site: http://www.mydaughtersdna.org/
Google Tech Talk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WOaQhjWmRU

"Nobody can say for sure what lies ahead for Beatrice, because no one
really knows what's wrong with her. Hugh has taken her to see some of
the nation's finest medical experts in hopes of finding a diagnosis,
but the doctors have all been baffled by the girl's strange array of
symptoms. This has left her in a sort of diagnostic purgatory, making
her illness all the more fearsome and traumatic. Families facing this
kind of medical uncertainty are often paralyzed by their distress. But
rather than give in to his anguish, Hugh Rienhoff made an
extraordinary decision: He would dig into Beatrice's genetic code and
find the answer himself. A biotechnology consultant by day, Rienhoff
has been an avid student of clinical genetics since he earned his
medical degree nearly 30 years ago. Now he has used this expertise to
transform his Bay Area home into a makeshift genetics lab. Surrounded
by his children's artwork and bookshelves loaded with his wife's
political literature, Rienhoff set about sequencing a number of
Beatrice's genes, preparing samples using secondhand equipment and
turning to public databases to interpret the results. On the desk in
his attic workspace are a pair of white binders stuffed with charts
detailing 20,000 of Beatrice's base pairs; the data for nearly 1
billion can be accessed from a nearby PC. Whenever he has a spare
moment, Rienhoff sequesters himself in this cluttered, carpeted room
and sifts through his daughter's DNA, one nucleotide at a time. He is
hunting for the single genetic quirk responsible for Beatrice's
woes—an adenine in place of a guanine, perhaps, or an extra cytosine
in a key location. If he can find the culprit, he figures, maybe he
can find a treatment, too."

In this case, it's a father using DNA sequencing to hunt down single
nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), i.e. single points of mutation in his
daughter's genome, and then comparing them with the use of a
bioinformatics database to what those nucleotides tend to be instead.
Most of our genomes are mostly the same except for the SNPs. So, he's
using some eyes and ears into his familial genome. Can we put some
very tiny fingers in there to tweak things? I always thought of the
"medical bay" in the Star Trek episodes as sort of like a really fancy
kitchen. Almost every house, every apartment has a 'kitchen'. And now
almost every house has support for computer tech. And automobiles. Why
not also DNA sequencing and DNA synthesis? Health is kind of,
important. What comes next if everyone has DNA synthesis in their
homes or at least for their bodies? You have the ability to download
genomes over the internet, or at least interesting new genes from the
"blog feeds" (the "gene pool" gets somewhat more complicated). So, I
can see this being interesting and worth working on.

- Bryan
1 512 203 0507

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