Gene modification is a tricky business. As man experiments with saving the planet and some of its most threatened inhabitants are we entering territory that’s too close to godly work? Is genetic engineering a scientific endeavor that needs more exploration and testing, or are ‘designer species’ a risky business?
Well, if you remember the sci-fy thriller movie Gattaca, that Brave New World for humans was explored in a way that made you question whether man should create a super race or allow differences to evolve and mutate over time?
Jurassic Park Threat?
Then there’s this threat. Just because we can, should we? Just because science might be able to pull off the monumental feat of changing up our genetic make-up, does that mean we should move forward? One fear that comes to mind is that we might be creating a real-life version of Michael Crichton's novel, Jurassic Park? While dinosaurs lived more than 60 million years ago, the woolly mammoth's usable DNA is still available. But do we really want that creature to roam the earth once again — just because it's possible to recreate him?
Ridding Disease through Gene Technology
On the other hand, when it comes to our dogs, there are certain species that we just might like to have around for eons to come. Dalmatians are one of them. However there is a respiratory disease this breed is prone to. Acute respiratory distress syndrome [ARDS] causes lungs to become inflamed, and dalmatian puppies can succumb to this condition because of a specific gene that went undetected to recently.
A research team at the University of Helsinki have miraculously been unable to isolate this genetic defect. This discovery can be applied to not only treating ARDS, the technology can also be used to breed the syndrome right out of Dalmatians all together.
Fortunately, only about 2% of Dalmatians suffer from the ARDS gene. However, because ARDS is a recessive disorder, it’s hard to know if two dogs being bred have it. The dog parents can look completely healthy, but still carry the disease and breed it into their pups. Genetic testing is the only way to really know if a dog carries the gene and disease.
Testing Animals DNA for Disorders or Designer Breeding
Today, a new service can test your dog for 99$. This genetic testing entails collecting data pertaining to potential disorders, dominant and recessive genes, and genetic diversity. The data collection helps two-fold. It can be applied to identifying future disorders and for optimal breeding.
For example, dog owners can know exactly which breeds to mate to obtain a certain eye or fur color. More importantly, breeders can see whether two canines have the same recessive disease and if breeding them will cause sick offspring.
Primary Source: Genetic Modification