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Biotech Science

Gene Therapy Creates Strong Super-Rats 414

Posted by timothy
from the pizza-with-nietzsche-cheese-please dept.
srstoneb writes "The AP is reporting about a gene therapy study in which muscle tissue in rats is modified to grow at an accelerated rate. The researchers are mainly interested in combating muscular dystrophy, but obviously there are other potential applications, both good and bad, for a treatment which makes you stronger. Athletic ethics are addressed in the article (it's in the sports section, after all), and rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe regular Tom Galloway -- who posted the link there, where I saw it -- made a comparison to the 'super-soldier serum' that created Captain America. Based on the article, a vaguely Wolverine-like healing factor is another benefit as the therapy allows faster recovery from injury. We already had a non-powered superhero reported last year. Who knows what the future may hold? ^_^" (And that's not the only natural-born superhero.)
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Gene Therapy Creates Strong Super-Rats

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  • by myowntrueself (607117) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @04:29AM (#8302697)
    Rats with "vaguely Wolverine-like healing factor".

    Wonderful.

    I can see the pest control guys kitting up with miniguns and RPGs.

  • by nano2nd (205661) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @04:30AM (#8302698) Homepage
    I for one welcome our new mutant rat overlords.
    • Why'd this get +5? Is there like a reference to Hitchhiker's Guide or Doctor Who that I'm missing?
      • This is an old /. "joke." [wikipedia.org]

        At this point I'll re-use another tired old catch-phrase, which is described on the very same Wikipedia page - "you must be new here" ;)
        • Sorry, I wasn't clear enough in my original post. It should have been more like "in light of all the overuse of this joke, why was it...".

          Thankfully the mods came and fixed it. *WhEw*
          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @07:20AM (#8303238)
            Sorry, I wasn't clear enough in my original post. It should have been more like "in light of all the overuse of this joke, why was it..."

            It is official; Netcraft confirms: Welcoming our new Overlords is dying

            One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered Overlord Welcoming community when IDC confirmed that Overlord Welcoming market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all +5 funny moderations. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that welcoming our new overlords has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. Welcoming our new overlords is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last in the recent Slashdot comprehensive moderation test.

            You don't need to be a Soviet Russian to predict Welcoming our new Overlords' future. The hand writing is on the wall: Welcoming our new Overlords faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for Welcoming our new Overlords because Welcoming our new Overlords is dying. Things are looking very bad for Welcoming our new Overlords. As many of us are already aware, Welcoming our new Overlords continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

            Welcoming our new Giant Rat Overlords is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core trolls. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time New Overlord trolls Jordan Hubbard and Mike Smith only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: Welcoming our new Overlords is dying. All major surveys show that Welcoming our new Overlords has steadily declined in market share. Welcoming our new Overlords is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If Welcoming our new Overlords is to survive at all it will be among trolls rated at -1. Welcoming our new Overlords continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, Welcoming our new Overlords is dead.

            Fact: Welcoming our New Overlords is dying
  • by fullofangst (724732) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @04:30AM (#8302701)
    Good news for 'pro' wrestlers then!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @04:30AM (#8302702)
    Progis Riport 1.

    Algernon kickd me in th nuts! It is sawr.
  • Governator (Score:3, Funny)

    by filtur (724994) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @04:31AM (#8302708) Homepage
    Now the rats can run for Governor of California

    I'm sorry, I'll post something useful eventually!

  • by heironymouscoward (683461) <heironymouscowardNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @04:31AM (#8302709) Journal
    Superrat "Mitee Mus" runs for governor of the Democratic Republic of California, winning 63% of the votes. Standing 7'3" tall, weighing 120kg and gifted with an IQ of 192, Mitee Mus told reporters "Now I can get to the real business of building nice warm nests for every Californian". He is married to the cousin of a Kennedy.
    • Wow, for some reason I can't help but be reminded of FATMOUSE [fatmouse.tk]

      Yeah, I know, it's... weird...
    • When you win an election in a "democratic republic", you win with 100% of the vote, or 99% if you're feeling magnanimous.
  • [..] and rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe regular Tom Galloway -- who posted the link there, where I saw it -- made a comparison to the 'super-soldier serum' that created Captain America.

    Breaking news. Toms Hardware is going to be benchmarking the Athlon FX-51 against the WOPR from WarGames!
  • by Arcanix (140337) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @04:36AM (#8302726)
    This is the only way we'll be able to compete in hand to hand combat with the robots that we'll assuredly create and be forced to fight against in the near future.
  • With the rise-and-rise of agribusiness and the permanent pressure they place on our governments, how long before such genetic modifications are made to cows, pigs, etc.?
    • by fruey (563914) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @05:13AM (#8302853) Homepage Journal
      This could already be happening. Growth hormones, vitamin supplements, antibiotics in food all the time, to reduce infection.

      Just where do you draw the line?

      • by sql*kitten (1359) * on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @06:11AM (#8303056)
        Just where do you draw the line?

        When customers stop buying it, corporations will stop selling it. The anti-GM camp is vocal, but small. The majority of consumers just want vast amounts of cheap food and aren't too bothered how or where it comes from. I'm not saying that's good or bad, but it is just how it is.
        • by mongbot (671347) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @06:39AM (#8303141)
          Cattle and poultry are given vital human antibiotics by agribusiness, just in order to allow animals to grow slightly faster. This means that bacteria have a far greater chance to grow resistant to the antibiotics. There have been many reported cases of people becoming infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria after they have eaten meat raised with antibiotics, (in particular, VRE [amm.co.uk]).

          Antibiotics are our only tools against the bacterial infections that killed untold millions before the 20th century. People forget that before the invention of antibiotics, a simple cut or scratch could lead to infection and death. And now we want to throw all that away, simply for cheaper meat?

          Can you be sure that the cost savings of agricultural antibiotics are passed onto consumers, anyway? Let us not forget that agriculture in the US is massively subsidised by the government (albeit to a lesser extent than in EU or Japan). And I don't know about you, but looking at current epidemic of obesity, I would say that we get enough meat already.
          • For that reasons, feeding antibiotica to cattle and poultry has been prohibited in the EU 2002, IRC.
            I only know for sure, that various antibiotica have been banned for feeding in 1997, 1998. I'm not quite sure how far reaching the legislation in 2002 was.
        • by jarran (91204) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @09:08AM (#8303694)
          the anti-GM camp is vocal, but small.

          That rather depends where you live.

          The UK goverments own research done last year shows that the public mood in the UK "[...] ranged from caution and doubt, through suspicion and scepticism, to hostility and rejection." (Quote lifted directly from the report.)

          They also found, interestingly, that people who came into the debate undecided about GM and not knowing much about the issues became more anti-GM the more they found out, which you could interpret as meaning that a significant number of people are not anti-GM out of ignorance, rather than choice.

          When customers stop buying it, corporations will stop selling it.

          Which is why every major supermarket in the UK has removed GM from their products, and biotech companies are withdrawing from the UK because they don't believe there is a market for GM food.

          And attitudes amongst retailers are becoming more anti-GM rather than less, e.g. supermarkets are now starting to even remove products from animals fed on GM.
        • by debrain (29228) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @09:50AM (#8303940) Journal
          When customers stop buying it, corporations will stop selling it.

          If that were the case, Monsanto [monsanto.com] would have stopped selling Posilac [monsantodairy.com] long ago. On the other hand, when your executives are appointed to the EPA [safe2use.com], and you can prevent the news from airing the truth [pcdf.org], who cares about the puss content [american.edu] of 1/3rd of America's childrens' milk?

          Customers have all kinds of choice. It is awareness and influence that are starkly lacking in the modern America.
        • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @11:17AM (#8304727) Homepage Journal
          The majority of consumers just want vast amounts of cheap food and aren't too bothered how or where it comes from.

          I don't believe this is true at all. I think that people believe that government regulates meat production so that it is perfectly safe, hygenic and humane. If this were true, all they have to do is choose the cheapest source.

          Unless they're paying careful attention they simply don't know exactly how nasty feed lots are; at least not until the recent mad cow scare made what cattle are fed a news story.

          Seriously, how many people knew that cattle in feed lots are sometimes fed chicken shit? OK not literally chicken shit, but the sweepings off the floor of chicken coops, of which chicken shit is the major component. It reduces the cost of beef, and it probably doesn't have a direct effect on human health, but it's a miserable way to treat a herbivorous animal.

          I'm not squeamish about eating beef, and I have no problems with raising animals for food and eating them. But the nastiness of the feedlot system bothers me. For me, doing literally anything to the animal which will increase its market weight to cost ratio goes too far. I'd like it if I had a choice other than becoming a vegetarian. I for one would pay a premium for range fed beef or even beef from certified humane feed lots, if my supermarket would carry it.

          Unfortunately I don't anticipate a change anytime soon, unless we get another mad cow case and more publicity about the beef production system.
      • antibiotics in food all the time, to reduce infection.

        They're actually in there to reduce costs. Antibiotics change the bacterial makeup of the animal's digestive tract so it processes food more efficiently. The animal puts on more weight for a given amount of food.

        If anything they make animals more susceptible to infection since the presence of low-levels of antibiotics encourage bacteria to evolve antibiotic-resistance. This is the reason the EU is in the process of removing antibiotics from animal

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @04:39AM (#8302740)
    You mean the usenet is still used for things besides spam, porn, and warez??? I can't believe it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @04:40AM (#8302743)
    I thought that the concern with steroids was that they posed long-term health risks... not that they made people stronger. The concept of limiting strength to those with naturally good genes is quite elitist.

    That's like saying that someone with bad eyesight shouldn't get glasses. If this therapy is as side-effect free as claimed, then why shouldn't people be allowed to use it?

    After all, implants and other non-essential plastic surgery is legal...
    • by kinnell (607819) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @05:11AM (#8302852)
      Personally, I think they should have two seperate athletic leagues - the normal one, and an indy league in which steroids, gene-therapy and performance enhancing drugs are allowed. It would make for an interesting competition. Give the scientists an arena.
      • I don't know if it exists in English, but in France, 'Le Lombard' brought out a 'commic' called 'Des Lendemains sans Nuage' (Cloudless Tommorow's) in which this topic, amoung others is nicely disected. In the end, you get a competition, where no one can remember the runners names, just the labs that they work for, and the loss of a life is just considered par for the course in testing.
      • by Cyno01 (573917) <Cyno01@hotmail.com> on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @08:33AM (#8303528) Homepage

        Dennis Miller: In response to what its sponsors claim is an idea whose time has come, the first All-Drug Olympics opened today in Bogota, Columbia. Athletes are allowed to take any substance whatsoever before, after, and even during the competition. So far, 115 world records have been shattered! We go now to correspondent Kevin Nealon, live in Bogota for the Weightlifting Finals. Kevin?

        Kevin Nealon: Dennis, getting ready to lift now is Sergei Akmudov of the Soviet Union. His trainer has told me that he's taken antibolic steroids, Novacaine, Nyquil, Darvon, and some sort of fish paralyzer. Also, I believe he's had a few cocktails within the last hour or so. All of this is, of course, perfectly legal at the All-Drug Olympics, in fact it's encouraged. Akmudov is getting set now, he's going for a cleaning jerk of over 1500 pounds, which would triple the existing world record. That's an awful lot of weight, Dennis, and here he goes.

        [ Kevin steps aside to reveal the steroid-bulked athlete bent over to lift the 1500 lbs. weight. Sergei tightens his grip on the barbells and pulls up, but instead of lifting the weights, his arms are pulled off and blood squirts ferociously out of his pulpy stubs. ]

        Kevin Nealon: Oh! He pulled his arms off! He's pulled his arms off, that's gotta be disappointing to the big Russian! [ Sergei's trainer wraps a towel around him ] You know, you hate to see something like this happen, Dennis! He probably doesn't have that much pain right now, but I think tomorrow he's really gonna feel that, Dennis! Back to you!

        Dennis Miller: Thank you, Kevin. Very nice form on the Russian. Canada, of course, is leading that competition.

        credit [jt.org]

    • Simple answer: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Burning1 (204959)
      Because athletics (especially bodybuilding) is as much about how you got there as it is about what you can do. Gene therapy is considered a form of cheating.
      • Re:Simple answer: (Score:5, Interesting)

        by DragoonAK (17095) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @07:03AM (#8303200)
        That's funny, because I guarantee you, no matter how hard I tried I could not become professionally competitive in likely any athletic event. I don't have the natural genes for it. So it's just luck that the top people got the superior genes (for this task), but it's cheating if I engineer my children so they have them?

        The real complaint (and the one I'd support for now) is that any gene therapy that will come around soon will be dangerous. Others have mentioned potential downsides of massively increased muscle production, and most potentially enhancing gene therapies would be best expressed through geneline engineering, where a developing embryo is genetically modified. The ethics of that aren't pretty, and its first uses are going to be therapeutic in nature. When it's safe to actually enhance though, there's going to have to be a new look at the old rulebooks banning genetically altered atheletes.
        • Re:Simple answer: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mr. Piddle (567882)
          it's cheating if I engineer my children so they have them?

          Why is there a need to impose this sort of idealism upon the children? Do they really and truly need to be Olympians to be happy? Or is it about the parent, whose lack of esteem ends up ruining the chilrens' lives?

          Having the parents choose their childrens' attributes arbitrarily smacks of eugenics.

          Gene therapy really needs to be limited to therapy. Who out there would argue with getting rid of Altzheimers, for example? The 100-m dash is prett
        • Re:Simple answer: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Burning1 (204959)
          Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, including the world champions.

          Arnold once had unusually small calves for a bodybuilder -- bad enough that he would hide them when he posed. Rather than giving up or getting calf implants, he spent thousands of hours building them. He compensated for his weakness.

          If someone is incapable of becoming a bodybuilder, they might be a capable sprinter.

          If someone is incapable of being a professional athlete, perhaps they are capable of being an a chess master.

          In my
    • by rollingcalf (605357) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @08:11AM (#8303449)
      The concern is that steroids BOTH make people stronger AND are health risks. What they are trying to avoid is a situation that practically requires one to sacrifice one's health to be a champion.

      Things like vitamins, ginseng, and creatine can provide a performance boost but aren't banned because there is little to no risk with using them (except in extreme overdoses). There are also a myriad of other substances that they don't care to test for because they don't help performance.

      There are also concerns about things that would undermine the spirit of the sport -- for example, high jumpers using springed shoes or Tour de France cyclists using motors. If gene therapy could produce super-muscular athletes, it would undermine the spirit of competition in a similar way; competition would become more a contest of who has the better gene therapist than who trained the hardest and smartest.

      Of course, innate genetic talent is a key factor to athletic success which allows some to win without the best training. However, such genetic differences are allowed not becuase they are desirable, but because they are unavoidable. In a perfectly fair competition everybody would have the same genetic talents; but that isn't possible so it's best to focus on leveling the playing field by reducing the impact of other differences that are unrelated to training.
  • Careful... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Tyro (247333) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @04:44AM (#8302761)
    It sounds great in theory, but there are all kinds of potential problems with rapidly and artificially increasing strength that way.

    If you increase strength very rapidly without allowing for the corresponding tendons and bone to adapt to the greater muscle mass, you can cause tendon ruptures and stress fractures (already well-known phenomenon in athletes). The body can adapt to all kinds of derangements if you give it enough time, but too much too fast? Bad news. I've seen people come in to the hospital with a hemoglobin level of 5, still walking (slowly) and talking. Now, that's theoretically too low to survive on, but if it happens over a long enough period of time, your body can adapt. If you take a normal person and immediatly bleed them down to a hemoglobin of 5, they'll die.

    Plus, if you are turning over too much muscle tissue too fast and don't stay adequately hydrated, you can clog your kidneys and end up in renal failure. This happens periodically when some untrained amateur athelete tries an Ironman without adequate conditioning.

    The human body is an amazing machine, but you have to be careful monkeying around with it... athletes may be after performance, but anyone who volunteers to be a guinea pig for this stuff needs his head examined.
  • Medical Applications (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bones3D_mac (324952) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @04:47AM (#8302769)
    I wonder if this would also help stop or reduce the breakdown of muscle tissue, when used to combat the effects of genetic conditions like Marfans Syndrome.

    Another application might be to solve certain heart related issues. There isn't exactly a huge replacement supply right now.
    • by The Tyro (247333) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @05:09AM (#8302843)
      For someone with Marfan's syndrome.

      Marfan's syndrome is a genetic defect in the gene that codes for Fibrillin, a major component of microfibrils in the body's connective tissues. Much of the pathologic consequences are noted in the eye and the aorta... the former location gets dislocations of the lens, and the latter location develops large (fatal if undiagnosed) aortic aneurysms. Marfanoid patients also tend to be tall, and have a lot of laxity in their joints, primarily because of their weakened connective tissues.

      If you have weaker connective tissue than normal, it would probably be counterproductive to have greatly increased muscle mass.

      I'm not picking on you, just pointing out that it might not be exactly what a Marfan's patient really needs... It might be useful in some kinds of muscular dystrophies, but the most common kinds have defective myofibrils... creating more non-functional muscle wouldn't appear to help them very much.
  • by acehole (174372)
    Isn't something like this in the "startrek" universe? Where in the early -> late 21st century they had the Eugenics war fought by genetically engineered humans?

  • by Shaheen (313) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @04:50AM (#8302781) Homepage
    Enough said

  • Turtles? (Score:5, Funny)

    by SJ (13711) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @04:51AM (#8302784)
    Great, we have the rat... now we just need some turtles.
  • This is not news (Score:5, Informative)

    by broothal (186066) <christian@fabel.dk> on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @04:53AM (#8302789) Homepage Journal
    Why do you think an american tenderloin beef is larger than a european one? Correct - the US beef is gene modificated. That's why there's a ban on importing beef from the US to Europe. Now, this has been going on for more than a decade. Altering muscles genetically is not news! But using the enlarged muscles for something other than to make larger beefs is. Of course, this has been explored in countless action movies already like Soldier [imdb.com] and Drive [imdb.com]
    • Re:This is not news (Score:3, Informative)

      by NonSequor (230139)
      Gene therapy refers to any technique in which genes not present in an organism are introduced. This isn't about modifying the DNA of a rat and using it to create a new rat with specific characteristics. This is about effectively giving an adult rat a gene it wasn't born with.

      Gene therapy has the potential to provide treatments and possibly even cures for genetic diseases.
    • Re:This is not news (Score:5, Informative)

      by dnnrly (120163) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @06:17AM (#8303073)
      I'm afraid I have to disagree with you there - US beef is banned in the EU because US beef growers use steroids to boost muscle mass in their stock. This (allegedly) remains in meat consumed by humans and has been deemed unsafe on this side of the pond. There is the whole thing about market protectionism, but that's a whole other story.

      PS. it's "genetically modified" not "gene modificated".
      • Re:This is not news (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Muhammar (659468) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @06:53AM (#8303180)
        US beef producers use Trenbolone synthetic steroid anabolic to muscle-up calves. It is applied as a thin tube stuck into ear of cattle. (Anabolics work best when injected, frequent injections are not practical - hence the slow-release modified formulation of steroid stuck into ear). Bodybuilders get trenbolone from farmers (they can't buy anabolics legit in US). Since they do not want to walk around with a tube in the ear, they extract trenbolone from the tube formulation and inject themselves daily with the stuff in form of extremely painful subcutaneous injections. They call it "making their own gear"
  • by Tetsugaku-San (717792) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @05:00AM (#8302808) Homepage
    I actually have muscular dystrophy, and although it doesn't affect me, it affects my mum, and potentially my children - I'm damn glad that someone has taken the time to research this oft (relatively) overlooked genetic disease.
  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @05:02AM (#8302816) Homepage
    I wonder how 'vaguely Wolverine" these healing abilities are.

    It's be interesting to see precisely what applications these advancements are seeing in military use. Sure, it's unlikely that any serious or controversal issue gets used right away by mainstream military, but surely there are special military groups that get "advanced tech" quite, in, er, advance of the main military force.

    I heard/read somewhere once that the US military's "high end" technology is 12 years more advanced than anything that is actually available for the mainstream military force, and only used by Special Ops.

    Consider how un-advanced things were during the first desert storm compared to how they are now - and jump ahead another years, and think of an equal amount of differential, if not an exponential differential. Wow.
  • Bad side effects (Score:5, Insightful)

    by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @05:03AM (#8302821) Homepage
    I see the potentional for bad side effects. If you increase the immune system, you get allergies and arthritis. If you increase the cellular regenation, you have cancer.


    Look at TNG, the advance imune system also kills.

    • Re:Bad side effects (Score:3, Informative)

      by Yunalesca (703301)

      Humans aren't rats/mice - nothing against them; my fellow biology majors love them. But if you shove novel genes into a body, kooky things happen - depending on the species and the method. Protocols that work in one animal will not work in another ... for example, RNAi is a wondrous genetic manipulation tool in some animals, but triggers massive interferon response in others (the ultimate results is that your genes crap out).

      Also, there are years and years of experience in manipulating mouse genes, and
    • by The Tyro (247333) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @05:46AM (#8302970)
      There exist entire categories of diseases based entirely on immune system problems.

      Rheumatoid arthritis, mixed connective tissue disease, Lupus, etc... all are autoimmune, and are a result of the body's immune system attacking itself. These diseases can be devilishly difficult to diagnose and treat... there's a reason why Rheumatology is its own medical specialty. Some of the drugs the rheumatologists use are potentially nasty, and include transplant drugs, and chemotheraputic agents... not stuff for the faint of heart.

      By the same token, when you start monkeying around with DNA, you need to be careful what genes you activate or deactivate... Cancer is fundamentally a genetic disease, and a real possibility if you get an unregulated growth gene (or you inadvertantly turn off a suppressor gene). Cancers are funny things; they can even respond to simple hormones... precisely why women with a breast cancer history aren't advised to receive hormone replacement therapy.

      Gene therapy has had some successes, but it's really in its infancy... I'd be awfully leery about using it just to bulk up at the gym. On the other hand, if you have a lethal genetic defect, and you're going to die without it, have at it. Forget Hans and Franz... you can find quite a few patients with potentially lethal genetic diseases (Cystic Fibrosis, etc) who'd be much better candidates for gene therapy than some weight-lifter.

      It bears repeating... using it for simple body-building is absolutely foolhardy... instead of growing big pectoral muscles, you might inadvertently be growing yourself a big fat tumor... that'll look great at the beach.

  • by Sleeper (7713) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @05:03AM (#8302824)

    Reminds me old science fiction story from one of the OMNI's paperbacks. About Olimpic games and all US and Russian teams having genetically modified memebers. Everything was there IIRC. Swimmers with fins, wrestlers with with TRex like bodies and well Russian boxer (who wins gold medal by several points) having his brain in his... well... ass.

  • If the comics are any guide, we can expect that the side-effects of this treatment would be lunacy and mania. People are going to go insane. In real life, too, steroid use can cause aggressive behavior.

    Remember when the US government tried to replicate the supersoldier formula during their diabolical plan to force Captain America to retire? Would-be replacement John Walker did become super strong, but he also became super evil. That was a dark day in the history of Captain America. [fremto.com]

    Look out, science. You

    • Steroid Psychosis (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The Tyro (247333) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @07:20AM (#8303239)
      is a real phenomenon... I've seen people go truly bonkers from high-dose steroids.

      It seems to be dose-dependent, and your chance of developing it is independent of whether you've had it in the past (ie. just because you went nuts one time, doesn't mean you'll do it again). Your odds also seem to vary depending on why you're receiving the steroids, suggesting that the initial disease process plays a role.

      It's also more common in women than men (no joke intended or implied).

      Some people don't like steroids, but I do (having been prescribed them in the past)... they give you lots of energy, all your little aches and pains go away, and you feel good. (there is a certain amount of euphoria with steroids). But there's a downside... a big downside. Check any medical text (or the PDR) for the long-term side effects of steroid use. Go ahead, I'll wait.

      Ok, you looking at it? Yeah... that's the list I'm talking about... the one that goes on for several pages (and includes "roid rage")... you don't want to get on the long-term steroid train unless you absolutely have NO alternatives. That said, properly applied in the proper dose and for the proper duration, they're great, helpful, and lifesaving drugs... one of the most useful drug classes in modern medicine's arsenal.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @05:19AM (#8302880)
    Rodents of Unusual Size? I don't think they exist.
  • by SoupIsGood Food (1179) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @05:23AM (#8302895)
    I will assmeble the ultimate real-life superhero team to Save the Universe! It will be called the Ultimate Super Hero International Team! The roster is carefully chosen to represent the most gifted and talented real-life adventurers from across the globe!

    On it will be the daring leader and Weapons Expert, Angle Grinder Man! (Linked to above.) Also...

    Aerospace Expert: Lawn Chair Larry! [markbarry.com]

    Science and Technology Expert: Troy Hurtubise, inventor of the famous Bear Proof Suit! [newscientist.com] (Tested by real bikers! And bears! It's bear and biker proof!)

    Matter Eating Expert: Sonya Thomas, the Black Widow! [ifoce.com]

    Sneaking Across the Country Naked Expert: Steven Gough! [bbc.co.uk]

    With these mighty heroes, the Ultimate Super Hero International Team, the Universe shall be Saved!

    SoupIsGood Food


  • He is Ben, [imdb.com] King of Rats" [coldfusionvideo.com]

  • Drugs in sport (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zog The Undeniable (632031) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @05:34AM (#8302940)
    Two days after Marco Pantani's death was announced, this is not a good thing for sport. The exact cause of Pantani's death has not yet been determined, but what is known is that he was depressed and being treated for drug addiction after being hounded for years over doping allegations. Unfortunately new "treatments" appear all the time and techniques to detect them are usually slow to catch up or ineffective (the EPO test involves measuring haemocrit levels in the blood, which can easily give false positives). Most professional cyclists are probably on something or other, and there are many who will leap at the chance to use another, as yet undetectable, performance boosting substance.

    The stupid thing is that if they were just in it for the prize money, they could have taken up golf and got paid far more for the onerous duty of wearing a particular brand of patterned sweater.

  • by clickety6 (141178) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @05:42AM (#8302959)
    Just wondering if this would be useful for building up muscle mass to combat long periods in low-gravity - such as a manned trip to Mars?

    • While muscle loss does occur in freefall, it isn't the big problem; That loss can be combated by regular exercise. The problem is bone density loss, and if you pump up someone's muscles while their bones are weakening, you just get a person who can shatter their arms when flexing.
  • We've got a race of super-rats living in the back alley. They're about 3-feet long, and heckle us with merciless honesty about our most sensitive insecurities...
  • by leoaugust (665240) <leoaugust&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @06:01AM (#8303015) Journal
    What is going on in the athletes and sports trainers minds? Some day people are going to be testing for these "enhancements."
    He said it would require a biopsy of specific muscles followed by a sophisticated DNA laboratory study to detect the use of gene therapy in an athlete.
    So, once the authorities can do the testing, whom are they going to go after ?
    Murray said he ''has no doubt athletes will be in touch with Sweeney'' when they learn of his research. Sweeney said that already half the e-mails he receives are from athletes or sports trainers.
    What are these athletes and sports trainers thinking ?
  • by verrol (43973) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @07:43AM (#8303327) Homepage Journal
    Those rats do run things. they are manipulating us to make them stronger so then can take over.
  • AGM is an ass (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SubtleNuance (184325) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @09:06AM (#8303681) Journal
    And that's not the only natural-born superhero.

    That AngleGrinder Man is an ass. The automobile is a menace. It pollutes. Causes sprawl. Is both personally and publicly VERY VERY expensive. Dangerous. Smelly. And encourages poor health.

    London has every Right to want to make selfish auto-drivers play by the rules. The Auto is NOT the be-all-end-all public-policy device that needs satisfying.

    Because I advocate sustainability, I ride my bike. I am damn tired of my Municipal, Provincial and Federal Taxes [iclei.org] being spent to bandage up crash victims, insure the public against this menace, watch the best agricultural land get run over by big-box consumer-depots, animals and plants get paved under, water bespoiled, and on and on all because some asshat thinks its his right to scream 100 km/h through my residential neighbourhood and park on the sidewalk.

    If there is any hope, the public is going to have to adjust its perspective/tolerance of the Auto and its destructive culture.

    If fucking tired of it, and this AngleGrinder Man is an ignorant fucking tool... By the way. I work for one of the Big Three NorthAmerican AutoCo's.
  • by Channard (693317) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @09:14AM (#8303740) Journal
    'What do we do tonight, Brain?'

    'That's Magneto, damn you! And we do the same thing we do ever night, Pinky.. try to take over the world with our rodent superpowers! And how many times do I have to tell you? Stop licking off that blue body paint!'

  • by sam_handelman (519767) * <skh2003@columbi a . e du> on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @10:07AM (#8304100) Homepage Journal
    I'm a computational biologist.

    My problem with performance enhancing drugs is that they hurt the athletes - people should not ruin their lives in order to compete; they should not be under *pressure* to destroy themselves in order to compete.

    To the extent that gene therapy might-merely-give everyone the benefit of the "best" possible human genes, I don't have a problem with it. Likewise, any hypothetical performance enhancing drug that was not harmful - I wouldn't have a problem with that. None of these things eliminate the elements of Skill, Discipline and Dedication.

    The problem, of course, is that in "optimizing" a person for athletic performance you may pay an opportunity cost - in the form of sociability, intellectual development or lifespan.

    Performance enhancement should be regulated to make sure that the athletes are not harmed - which is a crime AGAINST the athlete and not BY the athlete. Who cares about CHEATING when someone could fucking die?

    In the case of this treatment - it strikes me that this is something that most people would benefit from, actually. If it is safe (which is a VERY big if) then in a modern human (with no calorie shortage, indeed an excess) this treatment could be expected to have a favorable impact on lifespan, and on health and vitality particularly in late old age (where loss of muscle mass -> related conditions are a major health issue). The chief effect of forcing someone to evolve more muscle tissue is to reduce the amount of adipose tissue (fat.) Of course it is much more complicated than that and I don't doubt that there are side effects for a treatment of this kind which would need to be considered, but - are we going to deny athletes a treatment that the general population takes in order to IMPROVE their health? Clearly not.
  • by Presence1 (524732) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @11:03AM (#8304584) Homepage
    Wired News is reporting on DARPA research on extending the time that soldiers can go without food.

    "The vision for the Metabolic Dominance Program is to develop novel strategies that exploit and control the mechanisms of energy production, metabolism, and utilization during short periods of deployment requiring unprecedented levels of physical demand. The ultimate goal is to enable superior physical and physiological performance by controlling energy metabolism on demand. An example is continuous peak physical performance and cognitive function for 3 to 5 days, 24 hours per day, without the need for calories."

    the Wired Article:
    http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,62297,00. html?tw=wn_tophead_1

    the DARPA announcement:
    http://www.darpa.mil/dso/solicitations/baa03-02mod 2.htm

    --

  • Natural born? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by superdan2k (135614) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:35PM (#8305551) Homepage Journal
    How about this guy [lancearmstrong.com]? Freaky-low lactic acid production, high lactic-acid clearing, huge heart, VO2 Max (oxygen uptake to blood) more than twice the average person... And he beat cancer when he had about a 20% chance of living through it. Then he went and won the toughest race in the world [letour.com]. Five times. In a row.
    • Re:Natural born? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DamnRogue (731140)
      Part of why Lance is such an amazing cyclist is precisely because he was so ill during his cancer treatment. Normal athletes can train their bodies to be very good at certain activities, but no matter what they have certain biases and capabilities based on the kinds of excercise they did or didn't do when they were growing. You can adapt the "top layer" of your body, so to speak, but changing the core is more difficult. During Lance's cancer treatment he experienced nearly complete muscle atrophy. His body

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