The genes of a very lucrative business

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On Monday, November 26th, the international scientific community was shaken to its core by Hen Jiankui, the biomedical researcher who posted a video on YouTube telling about the existence of the first twin babies whose DNA was modified as embryos before birth.

Their names are Lulu and Nana, and they were allegedly born in China a few weeks ago. According to He Jiankui, the objective of the research was to achieve that two twin baby girls, whose father is HIV positive, could be born resistant to the disease.

The breakthrough was accomplished by using the genetic tool named CRISPR-Cas9, which removed the “door” through which the virus enters into the body and infects the individual.

Immediately after Jiankui’s his online debut, the Chinese authorities launched an investigation. The Shenzhen Harmonicare Women’s and Children’s Hospital–cited by the scientist as the facility where everything developed–published a statement denying its involvement in the pregnancy project and the delivery of the babies.

The hospital also stated that they were conducting their own investigation because the signatures on the ethical review forms seemed to be forged having in mind such meeting never occurred.

Genome modification in human embryos in banned in many countries, including the United States. Nonetheless, it is estimated that China invested more than $250 billion last year in research and development of biotechnology, especially genetic editing.

Furthermore, the Chinese people applaud the efforts. Recent polls suggest that two-thirds of the population support the utilization of biotechnology in embryos as a weapon against diseases such as HIV.

The moment the news broke, He Jiankui became a pariah in the scientific community. In fact, his work has been labeled as monstrous and unethical by the same colleagues who developed the predecessor technology–CRISPR–which is the skeleton of his new biotech.

In other words, it is like the human who invented the wheel getting mad at the guy who invented the car.

If anything, scientific advances show the brilliance of human intelligence and the constant desire for improvement. Now, the question is, who has the power to set the limit?

In my opinion, capital investors who sponsor these efforts do. In the end, regardless of the consequences on humanity and its existence, the markets will drive the moral compass of how this groundbreaking technology will be used.

According to the South China Morning Post, Hen Jiankui is president, member of the board, or legal representative of five Chinese corporations that have received more than $40 million in funds for research in human genome editing from Chinese and international investors.

Economists label health and energy the two industries that control the planet, and investment giants know it well. Therefore, asking them to be ethical at this point, is just like asking for pears from a lemon tree.

With or without ethics, Lulu and Nana are the new product of the biomedical industry. And the genetic editing performed on them as embryos will show the effects on their quality of life sooner than later.

Thank you for reading and sharing,

Xiomara Spadafora

This column was sponsored by Zellner Insurance Agency. Many things in life don’t have insurance. For everything else call Zellner (888) 208-8119

Rejecting vaccines increases health risks

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During the last two centuries, the eradication of infectious diseases such as smallpox and rinderpest became a reality, thanks to breakthroughs in immunization science.

Other illnesses like polio and the highly contagious measles are on the same path. And, if the eradication of these and other diseases has been delayed, it has been due to the difficulties of distribution in the world population, not the lack of effectiveness of the vaccines.

However, vaccines have been the target of negative controversies since the 90’s. The best-known case, and probably the modern genesis of the movement against children vaccination, was the study of the British gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield. Continue reading “Rejecting vaccines increases health risks”

Giving birth, giving light

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Years ago, my mother-in-law told me that her four children were delivered by c-section. I remembered her saying, “It was the 50s and 60s. You entered the hospital with a belly, they put you to sleep, and when you woke up, you had a baby in your arms!

Compared to my grandmother, who gave birth to her seven children naturally, having a c-section was never an option. The lack of medical services in rural Colombia back in the day mandated women to endure labor and God’s will.

Nonetheless, more than half a century later, Latin America has changed drastically, becoming the region in the entire world with the highest rate of c-section, according to the latest data published by the medical journal, The Lancet last week. Continue reading “Giving birth, giving light”

Thermography, a complement for mammography

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Credit: YouTube https://youtu.be/WwKEMp8hIn4

Even though I wrote about the risk of using groups of muscles that are not exerted often two weeks ago, I fell victim to a fitness challenge my husband saw on YouTube–100 daily push-ups for a month–motivated to get rid of the “bat wings” that hang from my arms.

As expected, I could barely finish 50, and that by supporting my legs on a yoga ball. To make the long story short, I ended at the acupuncturist office last Thursday with an acute sciatic nerve pain in my right leg.

Waiting in agony to see the doctor, I saw a new poster on the wall. It was the silhouette of a female torso in thermal images which alluded to breast cancer prevention. when the doctor greeted me I asked her about it. Continue reading “Thermography, a complement for mammography”

The Freedom of The Law

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Since its inception in 1789, the Supreme Court of the United States has had 114 associated justices including the new member, Judge Brett Kavanaugh; he was sworn in on Saturday, October 6th.

The court’s justices are nominated by the sitting president and the tenure is for life. To this day, they all have served until they retired or died. Not one has been removed via impeachment. Continue reading “The Freedom of The Law”

The hidden danger in fitness fashion

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Exercising regularly is one of the pillars to live a healthy life. Based on this principle and sponsored by the popularity explosion on social media, the fitness fashion and sports apparel market harvest exorbitant fruits in the last decade.

According to recent data, the launch of this market worldwide–with Nike, Adidas, Puma, and Under Armour as key players–reported $135 billion dollars in 2012, this year will be almost $174 billion, and projecting for 2024 is $220 billion dollars. Continue reading “The hidden danger in fitness fashion”

The Chauvinist Feminism

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Last week, a renown TV diva in my home country named Amparo Grisales, stirred the pot with her opinion about feminists creating a controversy I believe is worth debating. During a radio interview, she claimed, jokingly, that women’s G spot is located at the end the of the word “shopping.”

The radio host censured the comment and told her the feminists were going to get mad at her. Then, the actress responded in her famous self-confident way “I don’t give a damn about feminists.” Continue reading “The Chauvinist Feminism”