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Genetics/Epigenetics & Eugenics



I hope you can help me with this topic. I'm in the process of taking notes for an upcoming book I'm doing for a young adult series. It's a fourth in the series. The 4th book deals with a group of scientists hired by a man to create a super race of beings. Basically starting what the nazis had stopped. There will be some history in the book as well.

Getting back to the subject... I have a friend on Facebook and we were talking about different ways I could have this accomplished. I had came up with Eugenics and he had suggested of also mixing Epigenetic with it. Eventually using eugenics to gather sample genetic material the scientists want in a person. then activate the genes and ensure the traits they want are shown. Can this be possible to do in the fictional world? If so, what type of process is involved? In my books, I try to get everything as real as possibly can. So any help you can provide me is welcomed greatly. I also took in account of any possible side effect that may occur and have added it to the plot.

ANSWER: Hi (please note that I am using the '-' sign instead of comma as my keyboard is a bit damaged)

The short answer is: Yes. In a fiction you can -but it depends on what traits you are addressing. To do this type for a book- unless you are specific it is difficult to describe a long scientific procedure. I can provide a generic description but for a fiction to sound realistic you will need some details. Eugenics theme is ofcourse quite common in sci-fi. One of my favorites- Robin Cook's book 'Mutation'deals with a similar topic. Also the movie GATACA has attempted this without giving scientific details. But when these books were attempted- molecular genetics was not that advanced so the authors could get away with a supericial description.  These days-  dealing with a trait like intelligence is difficult because it is not one gene that is reponsible- similarly for physical appearance. Eugenics to eliminate or add single gene traits is theoretically easier than for traits which are controlled by several genes.  It is literally impossible to manipulate genetic material for traits controlled by several genes. Remember that most desired traits are multi genic.

I will be glad to help you if you can give me a little more information as to what traits you are addressing. I can attempt to give you some guidelines to make the novel sound realistic.


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QUESTION: Basically, I'm looking for certain traits for creating a 'super soldier.' It ranges from anywhere from super strength to advanced hearing and even possible being able to survive in severe conditions, for example these 'super soldiers' can last longer in extreme heat conditions like desserts and colder climates like the mountains or even in the polar ice caps. Eventually making them able to last a little longer and able to do things that what your average person can't do.
Sorry, I'm new to this area and as you can see I'm not sure on which characteristics to use for these 'super soldiers'. So I'm not even sure as to which method I can use for which type of gene that is needed for the job. But maybe, with your help, we can get down to what type of genes will be perfect for these 'super soldiers.'

That was a bit more specific but we would need to address this in several steps- via back and forth communication. But to start with- let us consider your traits-

Super strengths: Strength comes from muscle power which in turn comes from mitochondria- the cells powerhouse. Also he would need an enhanced ability to carry oxygen to these cells in order realize an efficient ATP production. So we can pick genes that produce ATP molecules in the mitochondria and also genes coding for proteins like hemoglobin which carry oxygen.

Superior visualization and hearing can be acheived by tinkering with genes coding for proteins in the "rods" of the eyes- and similarly for ears to be able to hear ultrasound like bats or like dogs which can hear frequencies below human ears.

Superior adaptability to extreme climates would require totally different mechanisms in place. To survive in cold- ability to generate heat from muscles (again mitochondrial proteins) and a quick way to switch over to fat metabolism from carbs. But in hot climate- the switch over to mechanisms that cool the body efficiently would require different sets of genes.

With a lot of the above super traits- the entire body must also act in co-ordination to the demands of external conditions while maintaining homeostasis. These would need to be addressed in an appropriate way to make the script look realistic while taking fictional liberties- since multiple gene manipulation in a zygote are literally impossible as of now.

You can also consider including concepts like longer gestational period in an artificial womb. Something like the serial- Kyle XY.

You have to provide feedback as I mentioned early in this Answer- to tailor the methods and concept.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Okay, well start from the bottom up. Meaning we'll start with creating a fictional artificial womb device then work our way up to what we need for the bionics of what we will need for the 'super soldiers.'

I'm failure with the show Kyle XY and somewhat with the artificial womb that was used in the show. So what puzzles me is what would be needed to create one and how would it be used. The latter meaning, if we use the artificial womb, when would it be the best time, and forgive my ignorance, to place the fertilized egg into the womb? Would it be at the very beginning just as the egg is being fertilized or shortly afterwards when the egg begins to develop?

Hi ,
I have been traveling out of the country and unable to answer your question in detail. Besides the gestational fluid is something I need to look up into in greater depth. I prefer to give you accurate and detailed information from which you are free to adapt for your novel. So I will get back to you in couple of days.


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Thanemozhi Natarajan


Answers in Genetics, genomics, cytogenetics of syndromes, congenital anomalies, cancer, clinical genomics and interpretation of omics data.


More than 10 years. Doctoral research thesis on Congenital anomalies and cytogenetics, Recurrent reproductive failure and chromosomal abnormalities. Postdoctoral experience in Breast cancer research. Current: Clinical Genomics and Pharmacogenomics.


Cancer Cell International, Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, Breast cancer research and treatment, Indian Journal of Pediatrics, BMC Proceedings, Pharmacogenetics and Genomics, Human Molecular Genetics, Frontiers in Genetics, Cancer Biomarkers.

PhD Biomedical Genetics

Awards and Honors
University Grants Commission Award for pursuing PhD level research (India); Travel awards to attend conferences.

Past/Present Clients
Post doctoral experience Cancer research, molecular epidemiology Current: Clininical Genomics and Pharmacogenomics

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