Friday, August 31, 2007

Witches of Yore: Biologists and Medics today

There were witches then, who used bat ears pickled for thirteen days in lizard blood with armadillo's nails and Lion's ear wax, stirred nine times on full moon days with the left hand to the right hand side and on new moon days, six times with the right hand to the left hand side to create a cockroach with dragon's wings, bad breath and (reference unavailable).

We now have biologists growing human stem cell lines that lie submerged in fetal bovine serum over mouse embryonic fibroblasts, infected with virus (grown in cancer cells, again feeding on cow blood extract) that has in it genes from a fluorescent seaweed (put there with the help of the juice of bacteria that were grown on ferment and rotting meat, and molecular scissors from Escsherichia coli), injected into an embryonic mouse's brain to create a mouse with 10% human brains!(Muotri et al 2005)

Come to think of it, the way genetic material is being cut, pasted and strung together and then popped in and out of cells and then implanted into a versatile repertoire of uterii, the only thing left is for Damien Omen to jump out of a jackal!

Medics are not far behind. Vacanti et al grew a human ear on the back of a mouse. An Assamese doctor was reported to have transplanted a pig's heart into a human and the patient lived on for a week. Organ transplant is as commonplace as Lego blocks. It would seem that there the degree of plasticticity in living systems is great enough to make the legendary Chimera a near reality. Why, one can create two headed frogs at will today! One can make mice that have two "anterior" halves of the fore brain pointing away from each other. Believe it or not! College kids have made bacteria dance to luminous cues.

While the reality of accomplishing such feats is only a little less magical than it once was, questions about how the magic is to be employed is still hangs heavy! Are the nefarious, wicked witches casting spells to make more and more deadly biological weapons in their cauldrons, or are the sweet Samanthas (the lovely lead witch from "Bewitched") stirring up gene potions nearing panacea? Is there a necessity or way to control them?

Any opinions anyone?!