22 November 2011

Musings On How Biotech Could Play Out In Our Lives

Imagine a world where:

DNA testing

* Every baby had a full genotype done shortly after birth and analysis of that information will be able to provide meaningful insight into how those genes are likely to express themselves when the baby grows up.

* Paternity is automatically checked and known with certainty at birth.

* One's DNA profile is automatically included in forensic databases, allowing positive identication of every missing child who is picked up, every non-communicative arrestee, every semen sample from a rape victim, and every dismembered body party located by a hiker or dog walker.

* A full list of potential organ donors from everyone alive could be drawn up in a moment.

* We knew, with 95% certainty, who would start to manifest bipolar disorder or schizophrenia starting late in puberty.

* Your personality and potential IQ could be determined with considerable accuracy a week after you were born.

* We could determine which kids would have dylexia before they even started kindergarten and tailor their curriculum appropriately.

* We knew which three children in an incoming elementary school class were at high risk of becoming bullies or psychopaths.

* An autism or ADHD diagnosis would be available at a week of age.

* You would know immediately a child's vulnerability to altitude sickness, hair color and type, eye color, skin color, ear wax type, skin and hair oil levels, tendency to go bald, tendency to get gray hair at a given age, likely amount of body hair, peak potential adult height, likely obesity challenges, lactose tolerance, propensity to be anxious, conscientiousness, resiliance in the face of traumatic events, and tendency to be judging v. feeling.

* Prospective spouses could know if their spouse or they were at a high risk for having difficulty sustaining a marriage relationship.

* Every couple could put their names into an online calculator that would automatically give them, in a minute or two, the exact probability that a child of theirs would develop any of the genotyped genetically caused diseases (perhaps 95% of the total at that point), as well as their probability based on age and a few other questionaire questions of their child having conditions that arise from mutations that take place in the first generation in the child, other age related or birth order related conditions, and any conditions with known seasonal or geographic variations.

Other Biotechnology

* A few injections or pills can end the craving of a drug addict for the drugs he or she is addicted to, and even prevent those drugs from having any effect on that person in the future.

* The normal punishment for violent male criminals was castration, chemical substance abuse treatment that permanent ends an ability to be addicted to the substances in question, if any, and a short prison sentence rather than an extremely long prison sentence.

* A saliva test and a minute wearing a knit cap with wires in it can assign a precise code to your mood.

* Veterans, crime victims and people who weren't coping well with a traumatic event could have their memories of their worst moments that gave them nightmares erased.

* We could accurately flag individuals who were high risk due to mental health issues when conducting a background check on a gun buyer from their electronic health record file, even if they'd never been committed or taken a psychiatric drug.

* A brain scan of a toddler could tell you if the child had been abused.

* A doctor's visit and a couple of tests could tell a psychiatrist with near certainty which psychiatric medicine at which doseage, or which non-medicine treatment was going to work best to treat someone without trial and error.

* A couple of treatments in elementary school could reduce your risk of getting cavities by 95%.

* Immunizations would be routinely administered not just HPV, but HIV, herpes, all major forms of hepatitis, cytomegalovirus, and molluscum contagiosum, in short all major viral sexually transmitted diseases.

* One could determine all of the most common types of sexual orientation and transgender identity (perhaps less than 2% false negatives and 0.00001% false positives) by the time children were toddlers. Transgender individuals would routinely treatments to prevent the development of secondary sexual characteristics of their apparent gender before they became irreversible.

* It would be routine for both young men and women to have easily reversible, non-hormonal birth control with no long term effects from before they become sexually active until they decide to have children.

* A two week regime of daily treatment with a drug that treats most kinds of cancer, but does not affect non-cancer cells, reduces deaths from cancers detected in the early to medium stages by 95%.

* A general purpose autoimmune drug would effectively put diseases from diabetes to M.S. to lupus to rheumatoid arthritis in immediate remission and eventually reverse their effects.

* Spinal cord injuries could be routinely healed.

* Soft tissue injuries could be routinely and accurately diagnosed from lab tests that did not require patient communication.

Note that these aren't necessarily intended to be endorsements or rejections of these developments. These are simply developments that seem within the realm of the possible.

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