Zinc is interesting

The ABCs of Biotech for Christians - Twenty-seventh and final in a series - Z is for Zinc and Zinc finger nuclease

Do you know what the eight essential nutrients are for humans? You can read them here. Zinc is high on the list with many functions noted: helps you maintain a sense of smell and have a strong immune system; builds proteins, triggers enzymes, creates DNA, and more.

In relation to the previous post, zinc is perhaps the most critical trace mineral for male sexual function. It is involved in virtually every aspect of male reproduction including the hormone metabolism, sperm formation, and sperm motility.

As noted in previous posts, biotech is not always highly complex; sometimes it explores and then puts a star on things like zinc or Blackstrap molasses (post 3) or jackfruit (post 11) because they are good for our health.

Biotech and its underling (or overlord?), organic chemistry, can make clear what zinc does for us, how much we need and how a deficiency affects us. It can prove what chemicals will harm soil so that it has no zinc to impart to a crop, preventing zinc intake through foods. Or, biotech can concoct medicines to enhance male function which we hear about continually on radio and TV. But those “little blue pills” (etc) do not contain zinc.

In itself, biotech is neither good nor bad. It is a body of knowledge, an exciting field of work, a tool or means in the hands of humans that can work toward good or bad ends. It can explore things found in nature like quinine (post 18) or wormwood (post 24) and discover new ways to heal diseases.

Nanotech (post 15) manipulation of zinc led to the discovery of zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs). These are way above the understanding of laypeople and may be a good example of why we consider biotechnologists to be geniuses capable of doing great good, however they may instead do great evil, in some cases never even knowing the difference.

Zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) are a class of engineered DNA-binding proteins that facilitate genome editing by creating a double-stranded break in DNA at a user-specified location. This reminds us of post 4 where we looked at the potential for genome modification that could change the DNA of a human, altering it in the germ stage, thus reinventing a person who originated with one genome destiny to a new one— one selected by the biotechnologist that will be inherited by the subject’s offspring.

Just this past week, news reports heralded that genetic modification of embryos to alter a portion of DNA has been accomplished by a Chinese biotechnician, Dr. He Jiankui. His alteration presumably will prevent HIV/AIDS in twin girls who were born in November 2018.

Dr. Jiankui used CRISPR (post 4), however ZFNs are known to be very useful for in vivo genetic editing for HIV: “Disruption of CCR5 using zinc finger nucleases was the first-in-human application of genome editing and remains the most clinically advanced platform…”

Christians and other moral persons in the biotech field will— and already have— forcefully condemned Dr. Jiankui's “accomplishment,” but continuing manipulations of human life are a foregone conclusion. The 3-parent baby is another example.

Exploring all the ramifications of this trend in biotech is a job for the experts. But laypeople must study their discussions and be ready to comment (post 13). One website to visit for bioethical news and discussions is the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. I hope to add more such resources in the new year.

Many, even Christians, will argue that genetic mutations and other aberrations caused by viruses like HIV must be eradicated, and this process must start out in the petri dish. Ten good reasons not to start life in vitro are listed in Flesh & Bone & The Protestant Conscience. I hope to re-add this content to this website and to add more reasons in the new year.

At the end of this blog series and at this Christmas Season, it is good to celebrate that Jesus Christ is the champion of good biotechnology. He is the Wonderful Counselor. (Isa 9:6) Look to Him for understanding and wisdom.

Chinese researcher claims first gene-edited babies

MARILYNN MARCHIONE | 26 Nov 2018 | APnews.com

HONG KONG (AP) — A Chinese researcher claims that he helped make the world’s first genetically edited babies — twin girls born this month whose DNA he said he altered with a powerful new tool capable of rewriting the very blueprint of life.

If true, it would be a profound leap of science and ethics.

A U.S. scientist said he took part in the work in China, but this kind of gene editing is banned in the United States because the DNA changes can pass to future generations and it risks harming other genes.

Many mainstream scientists think it’s too unsafe to try, and some denounced the Chinese report as human experimentation.

Read more.

Also see: He did it: uproar over Chinese gene-edited babies

In the video, Dr. He Jiankui, who has stated he genetically altered twin girls among others, explains his work. His demeanor is so pleasant it is hard to feature him as a Dr. Jekyll.

 

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
/ ( mm / dd )

View previous campaigns.

Angel fish bild.JPG
Public Domain, Link

...and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind ... the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind ...the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. -Genesis 1

Search

A SistersSite eBook

Flesh and Bone and The Protestant Conscience is an e-book on Amazon.com. It is 99¢ and in the Amazon lending library as well. The book description follows.

Would you let your conscience be your guide?

Does God care if the skin and bone of the dead are passed along to the living for medical uses? Is organ donation OK with God? Should you sign a Living Will?

Did you know that dead organ donors are often anesthetized before their organs are removed? Do you know the current definition of death? The conscience cannot function without facts.

As we ponder the ethics of in vitro fertilization, stem cell research and man-made chimeras, our thoughts trail off. How then should we live? (Ez 33:10)

How should a Christian think about euthanasia by starvation when doctors and the state attorney general all agree it is time to withhold feeding from a brain injured patient? Some things are family matters, but someday it may be our family.

Here is a small book to help you think about whether you want to sign your driver's license, donate a kidney, cremate your loved one, and many other practical questions that may arise in the course of your healthcare decisions or watch over others.

It offers a special focus on the doctrine of the Resurrection that is related to such decisions. Sunday School classes and Bible Study groups could use this book to facilitate discussion about the issues covered.