The creature from the classic Sherlock Holmes mystery from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle “The Hound of the Baskervilles” once considered to have an exceedingly strange ending, but it has been exceeded only by the strangeness of a headline that shows just how truly outrageous science has become. Recently scientists altered the genetic makeup of a normal dog to make it actually glow in the dark. And while no radioactive substances were used in the creation, the dog has a reputation as being one of the strangest genetic creations to date. Not only that, but they can actually control when the dog glows.
The researchers, hailing from Seoul National University have named their genetic creation Tegon. The dog, which reacts to a specific antibiotic glows under ultraviolet light and they say the test could have medical applications if the same gene were turned from a simple strange factoid into an actual means of detecting illness. The genes could be turned off and on depending on the presence of certain diseases or rather conditions which indicate the diseases. If the same were administered to people, hair follicles could glow under the same conditions to indicate cancerous growths, difficult to detect illnesses, or even possibly emotional disturbances.
But before we start seeing glowing humans, another group of UK researchers are demanding stricter guidelines for the creation of “monsters” that could result from crossing human and animal genes in a laboratory. Britains Academy of Medical Sciences warned that governments need to stay vigilant when using the genes of animals for genetic research on fertility treatments and stroke recovery.
It seems that science has finally made the possibility of creating these so-called “monsters” more likely than ever, but the creation of said creatures itself may be behind a wall of red tape and regulation. But what will necessity entail in our future? Now that the proverbial Pandora’s box has been opened, will a disease one day come about whose only cure forces humanity into a new world where the alteration or even outright fabrication of new genetic code is required? It’s a difficult question to fathom, but science has run into dozens of instances where the standards are changed to meet the needs of humanity. Our great grandchildren could be entirely normal except for a sequence in their DNA which was introduced artificially in order to combat a growing pandemic. While it may sound outrageous or even unlikely, consider how much inoculation changed how we looked at disease. The very notion of infecting someone with a disease purposefully in order to combat its effects and immunize a patient would have been seen as dangerous and ghastly before it saved hundreds of millions of lives.
These difficult questions about the nature of humanity must be explored now more than ever as we move into the next stage of humanity’s ongoing journey toward the future. And of course just as the aforementioned Pandora’s Box, there must always remain hope that no matter how much our destiny may be changed by the ravages of time we will still retain our true identity as humans.