dUm's Penance - Genetic Augmentation

‘Thanks to new state of the art gene mapping techniques, our experts have been able to produce genetically perfect biological modifications.’
Karma Press Release 204

Genetic Augmentations are the way of the future. With the completion of the Deathwake Project, scientists have developed a series of procedures that can be used to alter human physiological functions on a cellular level. While this may seem trivial, the application of this technology has proved otherwise. Minute changes in cell production, function, and so on can add up to a big change in an organisms physiological abilities, and geneticists have been able to produce some amazing changes in human test subjects.

The Procedure

First an extensive genetic map is created from tissue and blood samples taken from the patient. This map is carefully analysed by huge super computers, and the geneticists determine what alterations are need to produce the desired affect. Next a specialized viral vector is prepared.

The virus is a modified Adeno Virus, similar to those used for gene therapy. To date, scientists have managed to map the virus's entire genome, allowing them to remove any genes that cause the virus to be pathogenic. Scientists have also isolated specific viruses with a tissue tropism for every cell type in the body, in essence allowing them to engineer a virus that specifically attacks the type of cell they want to alter. The virus is then given a prepared segment of altered DNA (or RNA if the modification is only temporary) and it is allowed to replicate in cell culture until enough virus is present to infect a human host.
The subject then under goes a series of treatments in which the virus is administered in aerosol form. The subject suffers a severe cold for a week or two while the virus infects his respiratory tract and passes into the blood. When it reaches the target tissue, it infects those cells, and inserts its altered DNA segment into the host cell's genome.

The cell then replicates and divides and continues to create new altered cells with the desired abilities.

The Advantages

Genetic Augmentation offers a whole list of advantages. First and foremost, Genetic Augmentation doesn't reduce intrusive surgery like cyberware and doesn't imbalance the body's natural biological functions nearly as much as bioware. Of course the effects aren't nearly as extensive, but good things can come in small packages. Furthermore, Genetic Augmentation offers a distinct advantage in that alterations can be permanent or temporary. If the virus is loaded with DNA, it integrates this genetic information into the host cells genome. The host cell will then continue to transcribe and translate that information, and any daughter cells that cell creates will also carry the modified DNA segment. However, the virus can also be loaded with RNA, which is translated by the host cell's ribosomes, producing the desired effect, until that cell dies. If the cell replicates, some copies of the altered RNA may be transferred to the daughter cells, but eventually these will degrade and be destroyed by the cell. In this way a temporary effect can be created, which lasts about 48 hours, until the infected cells die off and are replaced with the old non-augmented ones. In addition, Genetic Augmentations are quick, non-invasive, and cheap.

The Disadvantages

Of course, Genetic Augmentation also has its drawbacks. It has been demonstrated that altering a person's genetic code too much can lead to some "less than desirable" side effects. These range from minor cosmetic mutations, to cancer. It has even been suggested that lethal mutations might occur, but this has yet to be documented officially.

In addition, there seems to be limit to how much genetic alteration the human genome can withstand. After a certain point, which varies from subject to subject, treatments seem to be less and less effective. Eventually the subject becomes "immune" to further augmentation, and all further attempts to alter his genome are useless. Reports that Genetic Augmentation reduces natural life span and that some subject's cells "self-correct" to remove altered DNA segments, have yet to be proven.

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Published on: 2002-05-15 (66 reads)