Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Gene Doping in Athletes

This week in EMBO reports (European Molecular Biology Organization) the dreaded issue of gene doping rears its ugly head. Normally I only report on genetics pertinent to your health. However this raises special interest for me. I was a college athlete and am fascinated by the extremes to which we would go to shave off that 0.5 second. This article raises significant questions about using gene therapy to enhance performance. Where will we stop, what line will be drawn? Gene therapy to cure disease....Why isn't weakness a disease? What about poor vision? We allow athletes to have LASIK, why not gene therapy? The danger is gene overdose. Once introduced into the body we have very poor mechanisms to control expression. But for that extra 0.5 seconds is it worth it? What about for those extra 200 points on the SAT?

The natural extension for these test yourself companies is now treat yourself. Are you a 100lb weakling? What about being predisposed to obesity? Treat yourself. Would you?

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