• Question: NOT SAYING THIS SHOULD HAPPEN, OR WILL HAPPEN!! Do you think it is possible that mutate our cells, somehow, so that we might have the athletic abilities (like the strength, endurance, etc...) and appearance of an animal? So a bit like a human hybrid?

    Asked by avny121 to Cassie, Greg, Karen, Sofia, Tommy on 7 Nov 2013.
    • Photo: Thomas Doherty-Bone

      Thomas Doherty-Bone answered on 7 Nov 2013:

      Yes, I think it is very possible to mutate a human genome through inserting different genes that code for different traits. One of my favourite futuristic applications of this could be to have astronauts genetically engineered to have four arms instead of 2 arms 2 legs. Maybe using genes from our recent ancestors, the Great Apes?!

    • Photo: Cassandra Raby

      Cassandra Raby answered on 10 Nov 2013:

      We can definiately change the information in our cells… but will it make us more athletic?

      Changing the DNA in our cells is something that we can already do! Isn’t that amazing?! And it is called ‘genetic engineering’ because this is when you design the information a body or plant uses to find out how it should develop and grow. In humans it is mainly used to treat diseases, and this can be done either in a cell before it has started dividing to make a new human, or it can be done on full grown humans by choosing a particular organ to genetically change. This is known as gene therapy.

      So would we be able to become super athletic or animal-like? I can only guess… but I wouldn’t be surprised if one day we could. (I would love to be like an X-men character!)

      But at the moment not all countries allow all types of human genetic engineer. At the start of your question you were careful to say that maybe this isn’t something we should do… and that’s a very scientific way of thinking! Not only do scientists need to think of all these new and exciting ideas… but they also need to think about whether it should be allowed. Is it ethical?

      Thanks for the awesome question

    • Photo: Karen Bacon

      Karen Bacon answered on 11 Nov 2013:

      Yes, I think it would definitely be possible to do so – we can already make plenty of changes to genomes. Imagine if the Olympic and other sports committees also had to check athletes for genetic manipulation like a cheetah speed gene or something as well as drug use.

    • Photo: Sofia Franco

      Sofia Franco answered on 19 Nov 2013:

      I am sure it would be very possible, as we can already change loads of things! As long as you know which genes encode which traits and what controls their expression, virtually everything can be manipulated! Check out the video about rabbits that glow in the dark!
      I guess the question would be about the ethics in doing so, also because for any of this to become a reality for humans it needs to be tested and these would be the problem as there would always be risks associated with it…and who would it be tested on? Also is it correct to engineer someone? If so, where will it end: when have we engineered too much? Big questions always mean big complication and huge responsability!