It amazing that I have to write review on 2 books at the same time that deal in the subject of genetics. This one - Copied that deal with human genetics and the other one "A cure to die for" which deal with plant genetics. Both of them also deal with heavy ethical issues. In both of them I intend to divide my review to 2 - one part which will deal with the plot and the other with some technical subjects ( I can't prevent this Biology is in my blood).
For the plot of Copied - The book is a fast reading it is really enchanting and I couldn't stop reading it. The story makes you think a lot about the ethics of cloning and gratitude for individualism. It is presented in the voice of two main characters - Xan (Alexander Mitchell) and Betha - 23 . While Xan raised with a normal family Betha is a Texacomdefense's company property;
Betha-23 was raised with other many clones like him from the same DNA template from one donor (this donor isn't alive anymore) in artificial womb.All the clones get the same treatment from their first day as embryo till the day they will sent so the recycling tank. As a company property they are not allowed to independent thought, they have to obey to their superior without any questions, some of them trained to be a perfect war machines, some will sent to study.Their life span program short from the beginning and to extend it they have to get a treatment of enzyme that will prevent the quick process of aging (In a way it ensure the dependency of the clones in the company, and their returned). In his training wasn't any place for emotions , farther then emotions and empathy considered as weakness. They had to analyzed, coldly, the situations and seek the most efficient benefits out of them.... This time Betha mission was to get rid from Xan. He orchestrate a very complex situation with burning of a building in this situation Xan had to die and also Miels his best friend which wasn't in the right place and the right time. To his advantage he use his face which were identical to Xan to lead the blame on Xan head (and now you already understand that Betha and Xan share the same DNA).
Xan (Alexander Mitchell) - after this "accident" everybody, include Xan parents and his best friend Miles and his girlfriend Malinda were sure that Xan is guilty. Till this moment Xan didn't now about cloning and the other clones which has identical DNA to his. He also puzzled about his mysterious rescuer, who saved him from the fire. Xan was desperate and the only friend face was belong to Lacy (which considered as a genius nerd and never went around Xan's fellows). Lacy came with friend of her own - Jamal and Allen very smart and brilliant - Jamal has a very successful blog about conspiracy theories and he will be the one of these two who will help the most.
Meanwhile Betha put a surveillance at Xan and Lacy's home and could follow each move of them. When he in his calculation he reached to conclusion that Lacy is a big risk factor he put a sophisticated bomb under the sink in her privet lab at home. It was a sheer luck that she found it with one of her old nanny camera's. Xan was amazed to find a similar face on the assassin. At the same time he discovered that he was adopted by his parents. He wanted to know about his real parent and after many inquiries , his father admitted that they know nothing about them.
Xan sent to himself a message to meet with Betha knowing that Betha will track it. Lacy followed him and together they caught him, because alone he didn't has a chance against his trained clone. Now they both hoped to get some information.
Love and relationship - Xan find himself feeling toward Lacy. His girlfriend, Malinda, didn't lose hope that they will return to each other. His relationship with his Best friend Miles reached to an end. Xan shaw to his adopted parents that he still love and care for them and vica versa. Betha surprised to find a soft emoticons toward Lacy. But Lacy don't know which she prefer more Betha or Xan. The staying so long out side the company compound cause a big change in Betha toward what it is important.
I can't say more without taking the reader trill of finding thing all by himself so now I'll pass to the second part of my review.
In terms of a relationship between cloning and genetic engineering, there is obvious overlap between the two fields- Specifically, in relation to human germ line genetic modification, cloning provides a powerful set of tools that, if certain technical improvements are forthcoming, could enable gene targeting [that disrupts or mutates a gene sequence]. A second breakthrough has been the ability to make artificial eggs or sperm from stem cells, either embryonic or adult stem cells that can develop into different cell types in the human body. The third breakthrough involves "designer" recombinant molecules that have the ability to break apart and reassemble DNA strands. Each technology could eventually help scientists make genetic modifications to a living organism's genome.
The cloning idea - or why clone human embryos at all?
The answer is stem cells. Stem cells are primitive, unspecialized cells. Scientists classify the natural stem cells in mammals into two broad categories: adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells are found in various tissues and replenish the cells found in those specific tissues, such as skin or blood. Embryonic stem cells are from the embryonic stage of development, and can differentiate into all the varied cells found in a complex organism, from the brain down to the toes. A 5-day-old human embryo, called a blastocyst, contains an inner cell mass composed of about 12 embryonic stem cells. Doctors have hoped to use embryonic stem cells to essentially repair damaged tissue - injecting them into a spinal cord, for example, to grow new nerve cells after paralysis. This talent that could make them the stars of regenerative medicine, the goal of which is to grow fresh cells and tissues from patients suffering from various diseases. Most of the scientist will say: "We think that it is wrong to attack some innocent human lives here and now to help others down the road,"(which is one of the subjects that Copied is dealing with). Fortunately, the great advances we are seeing in the use of adult and iPS stem cells provide promising alternative ways to heal illnesses without raising people’s temptations to engage in such attacks" - Based on this I was sundries to find the idea of recycling tank at the story, knowing that there is no need to all body to replace an organ. Also on based that even attaching the person organ itself is still problematic and given to a very narrow time window .
The cloning procedure works by combining a patient's body cell with an unfertilized egg cell from a donor. Since the 1950s when researchers cloned a frog, scientists have cloned dozens of animal species, including mice, cats, sheep, pigs and cows. When it published that researchers have used cloning to make human embryos for the purpose of producing stem cells may have some people wondering if it would ever be possible to clone a person. Although it would be unethical, experts say it is likely biologically possible to clone a human being. But even putting ethics aside, the sheer amount of resources needed to do it is a significant barrier. Also, in each case, researchers encountered problems that were needed to be overcome with trial and error.
With mice, researchers were able to use thousands of eggs, and conduct many experiments, to work out these problems. But with primates, eggs are a very precious resource, and it is not easy to acquire them to conduct experiments. For instance, cloning an animal requires that researchers first remove the nucleus of an egg cell. When researchers do this, they also remove proteins that are essential to help cells divide. What's more, cloned animals often have different kinds of genetic abnormalities that can prevent embryo implantation in a uterus, or cause the fetus to spontaneously abort, or the animal to die shortly after birth. These abnormalities are common because cloned embryos have just one parent rather than two, which means that a molecular process known as "imprinting" (Differentiation of cells to target tissues) the does not occur properly in cloned embryos.
Growing in artificial wombs - The idea of genetically modified humans living healthier lives may not appease those who fear the "Cloud Atlas" vision of mass-manufactured clone workers. Luckily for them, the science fiction idea of growing humans in artificial wombs may take far longer to realize than human genetic modification. One of the biggest challenges comes from recreating the placenta that helps transmit nutrients and oxygen from the mother to the growing human fetus.
As for genetic Enhancement: In the story we meet Lacy - she is very very smart actually she is genius. Her father is rich nan who work in analyzing economic opportunities for pharmaceutical company. In the story we had been told that her cleverness is a result of "gentle intervention" in her genes. The only problem is that genius is a result of many many genes that of them contribute in its own way to this ability. I just can't see hoe it was a "gentle intervention". The other problem is how to direct the intervention to the right places. If her indeed came from her parents it was enough that she inherit her cleverness from at list one parent.
Lacy's mother has a sever Muscular dystrophy . Muscular dystrophy - characterized by progressive skeletal muscle weakness, defects in muscle proteins, and the death of muscle cells and tissue. There are more than 30 types of MD. Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies, being caused by a mutation of a gene located on the X chromosome, predominantly affect males, although females can sometimes have severe symptoms as well. Most types of MD are multi-system disorders with manifestations in body systems including the heart, gastrointestinal system, nervous system, endocrine glands, eyes and brain. Antisense therapy is a form of treatment for genetic disorders or infections. When the genetic sequence of a particular gene is known to be causative of a particular disease, it is possible to synthesize a strand of nucleic acid (DNA, RNA or a chemical analogue) that will bind to the messenger RNA (mRNA) produced by that gene and inactivate it, effectively turning that gene "off". Alternatively, the strand might be targeted to bind a splicing site on pre-mRNA and modify the exon content of an mRNA.
According the story Lacy don't have the disease and don't even carry it. also according to the story her father is a carrier. So how come? One possibility is that she is not her parents daughter at list not her mother which carry two defected genes. But if her father is a carrier she had at list to carry his mutation on her chromosome X. There is other possibility is that somehow somebody fixed the mutation in the her embryo cells. To this day it is very hard to direct the right "fixing" to it's place on the DNA strand.
OK enough with technical things - the bottom line is that the story stand for itself it very fast going and very interesting and I recommend it with all my heart !!!