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Genetics/Epigenetics & Eugenics

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Question
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 have also took into consideration of the potential side effects, even if they are unknown and have worked them into the plot of the story.

Answer
Hello Gregory!

Epigenetics is a fairly new field, and the best introduction/example I've seen explaining it is from Dr. Karl of the Aussie ABC. I'd give that a read and come back.
http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2009/10/21/2720208.htm

So, what epigenetics does is essentially like a 'software' program written on the DNA 'hardware'. You stress the organisms and they adapt to the stimuli. The pattern of adaptation may be passed down to the next generation, especially if the stress continues.

It would be possible to do this in a fictional world, but the main thing it would take is time. If you have some fictional ability to speed up time or cellular development, then your bad scientists can certainly utilize epigenetic principles to optimize their eugenics program. Without time alteration, you're limited to the speed of usual human breeding. :)

As to what your Übermenschen are being selected for... well, be creative. Obviously they're looking for a specific racial image. However, within that image can be a range of body types: large strong people for shock troops (trained all their lives to be large strong people before having kids), short skinny nimble folks for acrobats or assassins (agility training), etc etc.  We don't yet know all the genes that govern intelligence, but if your scientists only let the top test takers have sex with other people you'd have a group powerfully motivated to study, learn, and remember.

It's worth noting that simply feeding accelerated growth would be a challenge in any organism. (Better have a few soy farms dedicated to this project.) Other side effects may include social interaction problems, mental development issues, odd twitches, or inconveniently fast growing cancers.

Also, unless the Übermenschen are 'slowed down' after a biologically accelerated growth program, they should proceed right past their prime... and die of old age quickly, too.

Good luck with your book! :) Let me know what the title turns out to be when it hits the presses.

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Trista Robichaud, PhD

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No homework questions, especially ones copied and pasted from textbooks. I will answer questions about principles or give hints, but I do not do other's homework. I'm comfortable answering basic biochemistry, chemistry, genetics, and biology questions up to and including an undergraduate level of understanding. This includes molecular biology, protein purification, and genetics. My training/inclination is primarily in structural biology, or how the shapes of things affect their function. Other interests include protein design, protein engineering, enzyme kinetics, and metabolic diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis, and diabetes. Regrettably, I cannot diagnose any disease. I can tell you how we currently understand the basic science behind a disease state, but I cannot recommend treatment in any way. Please direct such questions to your medical professional.

Experience

I hold a PhD in Biomedical Science from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. I specialize in Biochemistry, with a focus on protein chemistry. My thesis work involved the structure and functions of the human glucose transporter 1. (hGLUT1) Currently I am a postdoc working in peptide (mini-protein) design and enzymology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas. I am in Bjorn Steffensen's lab, researching inhibitors of gelatinase A, a matrix metalloproteinase. I have also been answering Chemistry/Biochemistry questions on this site since summer 2010.

Organizations
2001 American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2007 American Chemical Society 2007 Protein Society 2011 UTHSCSA Women’s Faculty Association

Publications
Publications Levine KB, Robichaud TK, Hamill S, Sultzman LA, Carruthers A. Properties of the human erythrocyte glucose transport protein are determined by cellular context. Biochemistry 44(15):5606-16, 2005. (PMID 15823019) Robichaud TK, Appleyard AN, Herbert RB, Henderson PJ, Carruthers A “Determinants of ligand binding affinity and cooperativity at the GLUT1 endofacial site” Biochemistry 50(15):3137-48, 2011. (PMID 21384913) Xu X, Mikhailova M, Chen Z, Pal S, Robichaud TK, Lafer EM, Baber S, Steffensen B. “Peptide from the C-terminal domain of tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases-2 (TIMP-2) inhibits membrane activation of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2)” Matrix Biol. 2011 Sep;30(7-8):404-12. (PMID: 21839835) Robichaud TK, Steffensen B, Fields GB. Exosite interactions impact matrix metalloproteinase collagen specificities. J Biol Chem. 2011 Oct 28;286(43):37535-42 (PMID: 21896477) Poster Abstracts: Robichaud TK, Carruthers. A Mutagenesis of the Human type 1 glucose transporter exit site: A functional study. ACS 234th Meeting, Boston MA. Division of Biological Chemistry, 2007 Robichaud TK, Bhowmick M, Tokmina-Roszyk D, Fields GB “Synthesis and Analysis of MT1-MMP Peptide Inhibitors” Biological Chemistry Division of the Protein Society Meeting, San Diego CA 2010 Robichaud TK; Tokmina-Roszyk D; Steffensen B and Fields GB “Exosite Interactions Determine Matrix Metalloproteinase Specificities” Gordon Research Conference on Matrix Metalloproteinase Biology, Bristol RI 2011

Education/Credentials
INSTITUTION AND LOCATION DEGREE (if applicable) YEAR(s) FIELD OF STUDY Oakland University, Auburn Hills MI BS 1993-1998 Biochemistry University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester MA PhD 2001-2008 Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio TX Postdoc 2009-Present Biochemistry

Awards and Honors
1998 Honors College Graduate, Oakland University 2009 Institutional National Research Service Award, Pathobiology of Occlusive Vascular Disease T32 HL07446 2011 1st Place, Best Postdoctoral Poster, Dental Science Symposium, UTHSCSA, April 2011

Past/Present Clients
Invited Seminars: Robichaud TK, Fields GB. “Synthesis and Analysis of MTI-MMP Triple Helical Peptide Inhibitors” Pathology Research Conference, University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio Pathology Department (June 18th, 2010) Robichaud TK & Hill, B “How To Give A Great Scientific Talk” Invited Lecture, Pathobiology of Occlusive Vascular Disease Seminars, UTHSCSA (Nov 11th 2010), Cardiology Seminar Series, Texas Research Park (Feb 21st, 2011) Robichaud TK; Tokmina-Roszyk D; Steffensen B and Fields GB “Exosite Interactions Determine Matrix Metalloproteinase Specificities” Gordon-Keenan Research Seminar “Everything You Wanted to Know About Matrix Metalloproteinases But Were Afraid to Ask” Bristol, RI (Aug 6th, 2011)

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