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Biotech Science

Stem Cells Change Man's DNA 171

An anonymous reader writes "After receiving umbilical cord stem cells to replace bone marrow as treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Greg Graves temporarily had three different sets of DNA. Eventually, one of the two sets of cells transplanted into his bone marrow took root, leaving him different DNA in his blood from the rest of his body: 'If you were to do a DNA test of my blood and one from my skin, they'd be different,' Graves said. 'It's a pretty wild thing.'"
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Stem Cells Change Man's DNA

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  • by Xonstantine ( 947614 ) on Friday October 05, 2007 @05:35PM (#20873863)

    Not to sound like a bible thumper but should we really be playing god with something we barely understand.
    Well, since it's pretty clear you don't understand it, it's probably a good idea that you don't go off and play around with it.

    In answer to your question "While this is an amazing break-through what will happen if this guy has offspring?", the answer is nothing. At least, nothing different than if he hadn't had stem cells implanted. For there to be any difference, there would've had to have replaced the spermatogonia.
  • Change or add? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pembo13 ( 770295 ) on Friday October 05, 2007 @05:40PM (#20873939) Homepage
    Seems to me that the stem cells added new DNA material, it didn't mutate his existing DNA material.. so why use the word change?
  • by hellfire ( 86129 ) <deviladvNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday October 05, 2007 @05:58PM (#20874093) Homepage
    First of all, a bone marrow transplant is not currently something Joey Pants can do for you in his brooklyn apartment in 30 minutes just to change your DNA. And the cost and time in the procedure is far greater than simply shaving your body hair, washing down throughly to get dead skin off your body, and wearing thick tight clothes to keep you from shedding any DNA.

    Second, there are plenty of documented cases of someone being a "Chimera" where they contain two sets of DNA in their body. It's usually when an embryo absorbs a twin in the womb. I don't know if there are any true cases out there in the books where a Chimera was tried for a case, but it's known. Science is well aware that DNA is not 100% foolproof, which is why you have probability matches when testing DNA normally. These will simply be bumps in the road and science will adapt. This is nothing new to DNA research. Most likely forensics labs will begin to require taking multiple samples from multiple areas depending on the DNA evidence found. If you left blood at the scene of the crime, why take DNA from your cheek if there's a chance the criminal is a Chimera or a bone marrow transplantee.

    Third, the law will catch up with this. Defense attorneys will use this to create reasonable doubt, and prosecutors will counter to learn about this, while forensics keeps up with the latest scientific trends.

    On the other hand, DNA identification methods for businesses will be completely fucked if someone gets a marrow transplant or is a Chimera and doesn't know it.
  • by debilo ( 612116 ) on Friday October 05, 2007 @06:03PM (#20874141)

    Because the fact that blood at a murder scene matches the doner's DNA, doesn't mean the doner was there - the guy who got the stem cells could have been. So it's not "incontrovertable",not that it ever was anyway...
    So the case could be narrowed down to, say, a handful of suspects at best? And that's not taking into account the fact that all of them probably will live in different places, thus either increasing or decreasing their level of suspectedness, and all the other circumstances that would require too great a coincidence to be so indistinguishable that the real culprit couldn't be singled out. Given that, I'd say DNA evidence will stay as foolproof as usual for years to come.
  • by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) * on Friday October 05, 2007 @06:20PM (#20874289) Homepage Journal

    I think the responses so far are missing the OP's point.

    I didn't read his post thinking, "OMG, no more DNA evidence within a few years!" I'm guessing he meant that eventually through the use of various technologies for various reasons, it will be possible for criminals to be genetically altered in such a way that making identifying them using DNA will be difficult. It may be 50 years, 100 years, or 200 years, but as we get better and better at munging up our DNA, it is possible.

    Also, that totally neglects that at some point in the future, when the technology behind this kind of stuff becomes pervasive enough, high tech criminals may deliberately have their DNA altered for the specific purpose of thwarting identification.

  • by provigilman ( 1044114 ) on Friday October 05, 2007 @06:29PM (#20874369) Homepage Journal
    You're assuming that the police are aware of the multiple DNA profiles. At least in the US we have very strict privacy rules governing medical information...we can't just make someone where a bracelet saying "I have two DNA profiles!!!". Since it's in his medical records it's sealed and someone would either have to remember his name from a news story, or he would need to volunteer the info. (And yes, they can subpoena the medical records, but they would have no cause for doing so unless they already knew)

    So if their DNA evidence came from skin or hair cells he could happily submit to a blood test to confirm that he's not the killer...all without their knowledge. Or vice-versa...they have blood and he says "Yeah, I'll give you a sample, but I don't like needles. Can we just do a cheek swab?"

    Probably what this will lead to, if anything, is duplicate testing and/or testing of the same material as what was found. You find saliva, you test saliva. You find blood, you test blood.

  • Chiba City Blues (Score:2, Insightful)

    by freshmayka ( 1043432 ) on Friday October 05, 2007 @09:06PM (#20875653)
    How long before I can go into a black market clinic and get a DNA swap or rather some DNA camo???
  • scenario (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @01:17AM (#20876897) Homepage Journal
    Or how about this... during your younger years you are a little stupid and commit a felony. "Borrowed" your uncle's car without asking and he was a prick about it, or something. Nothing really horrible, but you are convicted, and you live in a more fascistic state than some, where all felons must give DNA samples for a database.

    Fast forward 20 years - you have long since outgrown your reckless youth, are a responsible, caring member of society and as part of that you give blood and registered in the bone marrow database.
    You're called - there's someone in another state that needs marrow, and you're a match! You're actually thrilled at the idea of being a part of saving a life. A young teenager needs your help. You know what it's like to be a teen who needs help.

    Another 10 years pass and someone is murdered. Blood samples show not only the victim's blood, but the attacker's - she got in a few scratches before succumbing. They test the DNA, search the database, and BINGO - YOU'RE the match. You were on vacation in Barcelona, your wife swears its true. But hey, the expert says you have to be the guy, and so you get the death penalty for the vicious murder.

    You could have gotten off with life in prison, but since you are so cold, so uncaring, so unwilling to show remorse for your crime, protesting your innocence all along, they show no mercy.

  • Re:scenario (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Yetihehe ( 971185 ) on Saturday October 06, 2007 @03:44AM (#20877397)
    If he was in Barcelona on vacations, then he have good alibi. He probably spend some time there, buyed something with his credit card, some people have seen him. He left too many traces of being there, so he have proof of being innocent. Then police would have to PROVE he was not in Barcelona when crime happened.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger