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Get ready for the Gene-edited Zombies
Lab hamsters become unexpectedly aggressive
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Scientists from Georgia State University discovered an absolute shocker recently - “the biology behind social behavior may be more complex than previously thought”. Gee, who would’ve thought it!? Maybe we don’t know as much as some people like to think. Maybe, as a species, we should rein back on the God complex, show a bit more humility.
Maybe warp-speeding vaccines and injecting billions of people before the trials completed was not the wisest move, when nature shows that it is unpredictable, time and time again. However clever the people with God complexes think they are, however benevolent their intentions, nature will continue to out-manoeuvre them. This doesn’t mean we stop trying to understand nature, stop grappling with its secrets, it means being more humble and far more cautious.
The study in question created gene-edited hamsters to study social neuroscience. As part of the study, hamsters had their Avpr1a receptors removed to see how their behaviour changed. These receptors increase the expression of social communication and aggression. Therefore, the authors anticipated that if they knocked out these signalling pathways they “would reduce both aggression and social communication”.
However, the complete opposite happened. Beware the zombie hamsters.
As can be seen in the pictures above, the hamsters started chasing, pinning down other hamsters and biting them. The gene-editing process made the hamsters super aggressive towards other same-sex hamsters in their cage.
Unexpectedly, however, Avpr1a KO hamsters displayed more social communication behavior and aggression toward same-sex conspecifics than did their wild-type (WT) littermates.
The gene editing was undertaken using the controversial CRISPR technique which can cut and replace sections of DNA. The reason it is controversial is due to its use in the womb, therefore its potential to create designer babies. In 2018 a Chinese scientist claimed to have created a designer baby, resistant to HIV, smallpox and cholera. This sparked a huge ethical debate which has since died down due to the appearance of Covid.
It was thought that Avpr1a increased aggression in males but reduced it in females. Previous studies, where an injection had stimulated the receptors, had produced these results. However, when the gene was completely removed the hamsters exhibited aggression when exposed to nonaggressive, same-sex hamsters in a neutral arena.
The authors concluded that “the diversity and complexity of social behaviors across species and among individuals is hypothesized to emerge from the functional interactions among the multiple nodes of SBNN circuitry, and not from the activity of its individual components…As such, these data support the hypothesis that social behavior can be an emergent property coming from the interactions across nodes of the entire circuit”.
This gene editing technology can show up immediately or express itself over time or in different generations. These concerns all tie in with Gain of Function (GoF) work, Dual-Use Research of Concern (DURC) and mRNA vaccines. Whilst the immediate effects of these technologies may not present themselves straight away, who knows what twists nature will provide in the future. These hamsters are excellent proof of that. What were supposed to be calm, peaceful balls of fluff, turned into uber-aggressive attack rodents.
Who knows what problems scientists are storing up for us in the future.
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