China Races Ahead In Gene Editing – Unhampered By Rules

Note:   Chimera – The Days Of Noah
A past article and Levitt video on genetic manipulation.

And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. Luke 17:26

The subhead on the Wall Street Journal article,
“US help devise Crispr tool. Chinese doctors unfettered by rules are first in human trials.”

What is CRISPR?

CRISPR, a new genome editing tool, could transform the field of biology—and a recent study on genetically-engineered human embryos has converted this promise into media hype. But scientists have been tinkering with genomes for decades. Why is CRISPR suddenly such a big deal?

The short answer is that CRISPR allows scientists to edit genomes with unprecedented precision, efficiency, and flexibility….

In short, CRISPR is far better than older techniques for gene splicing and editing. And you know what? Scientists didn’t invent it.

CRISPR/Cas9 comes from strep bacteria…

CRISPR is actually a naturally-occurring, ancient defense mechanism found in a wide range of bacteria. As far as back the 1980s, scientists observed a strange pattern in some bacterial genomes. One DNA sequence would be repeated over and over again, with unique sequences in between the repeats. They called this odd configuration “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats,” or CRISPR.

This was all puzzling until scientists realized the unique sequences in between the repeats matched the DNA of viruses—specifically viruses that prey on bacteria. It turns out CRISPR is one part of the bacteria’s immune system, which keeps bits of dangerous viruses around so it can recognize and defend against those viruses next time they attack. The second part of the defense mechanism is a set of enzymes called Cas (CRISPR-associated proteins), which can precisely snip DNA and slice the hell out of invading viruses. Conveniently, the genes that encode for Cas are always sitting somewhere near the CRISPR sequences. Gizmodo

Immune system a hurdle to genetic treatment

A new study of CRISPR-Cas9 found that many people carry existing immunities to the proteins the widely used gene-editing method uses, which could render genetic treatments useless or harmful. The new discovery, published at bioRxiv, made investors jittery and sent some CRISPR shares plummeting, the news site Stat reported.  WorldWNG

Video:  CRISPR: Gene editing and beyond

“China Races Ahead In Gene Editing.”

Well, you see the problem and you understand immediately why worldview makes such a difference. Why? Because China is still operating out of the legacy of Confucianism and it is operating out of the very present reality of a Communist, Marxist, materialist worldview, a worldview enforced by the power and the authority of the Chinese Communist Party that presents the material world as all that matters, that openly denies anything supernatural and anything beyond the material world. The official worldview in China is not merely state enforced atheism, it is also state-mandated materialism. And in a material world, morality simply evaporates; there can be no moral truths if all that exists is material.

The article appeared Monday on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, an entire team of journal reporters contributed to the story, and the story begins by reminding us that the gene editing technology known as Crispr, a very dangerous technology that we’ve discussed often on The Briefing, it was developed in the United States. But in the United States there are both ethical and legal constraints upon not only the specific gene editing technology but upon all research having to do with human subjects. Now we should note that this is because in the West, and that includes the United States even in this secular age, there is still a residue of the Christian biblical worldview when it comes to the definition of humanity and the understanding of human rights. Even though many secular people in the West may insist, along with the Chinese Communist Party, that the only reality is the material reality our tradition in law speaks otherwise, and our understanding of human rights is deeply rooted in the understanding that human beings are created beings and are specifically created as the very pinnacle of creation, the only beings that are made in God’s own image.

In the United States there are strict protocols and there is an entire regime of law, not only in terms of criminal law but also civil law and the potential for litigation, that protects human subjects from medical research that is done without consent and without some degree of at least claimed oversight by the scientific community. You’ll recall that the most important principle is the first principle in the ancient Hippocratic oath governing medicine, or at least historically governing medicine, and that is the imperative that the physician or the medical researcher must do no harm. There is no similar principle and there certainly is no similar understanding of the human being in the Chinese context, and that’s what this story is all about, that’s why it made the front page of the Wall Street Journal. But there’s a lot more to this story than merely contrasting the worldview that is operational in China and the worldview that is, at least for now, operational in the United States. There are cracks in the picture in the United States that are very visible in the story.

But first, let’s go back to China. The reporters tell us that Chinese doctors and scientists, medical researchers, are pressing ahead fast with using the Crispr technology on broad scale experimentation amongst human patients, human subjects of research. The big story behind the Crispr technology is the fact that it is the first gene editing technology that can be used on the human genome. As you change the actual genetic structure of a human patient, the danger is that you’re not only changing the genetic structure of that human individual but of all human individuals who will follow in the reproductive line of that original edited genome. To state the matter bluntly, modern medical science has no way of knowing or predicting, much less guaranteeing, what kind of long-term implications will come from editing the human genome with what is called inheritable traits.

Carl June, who was the lead scientist for Crispr research at the University of Pennsylvania, warns that China is now going to beat the United States to apply medical technologies that were first pioneered in the West. Dr. June said,

“We are at a dangerous point in losing our lead and biomedicine.”

Now, I pointed out that you see cracks in the American worldview here. The crack becomes very evident when you see researchers in the United States looking jealously at China and at China’s lack of restrictions and laws governing this kind of technology applied to human subjects, and you have them warning that the United States is going to fall behind in these applications. The implication is clear: The United States needs to change its morality less it fall behind in technology.   AlbertMohler

Biblical Canaanites DNA Linked To Modern-Day Lebanese

Genome sequenced from 3,700-year-old remains is found in modern-say Lebanese.  Modern-day Lebanese share 93% of their DNA with the ancient Canaanites.

In the first test, the researchers aimed to assess the ancestry of the ancient Canaanites and what they found was that ancient Canaanites shared a common ancestry with other ancient Levant civilizations including Phoenicians, Israelites, and Moabites. In the second test which aimed to identify the ancestry of modern Lebanese people, the DNA analysis showed that despite being separated by more than 3,700 years, the Lebanese genome shared as much as 93% of its composition with the genome drawn from the ancient Canaanites. Another interesting finding from the genetic analysis was that the Lebanese people have been isolated from other communities for thousands of years. WorldAtlas

Researchers supported by The Wellcome Trust were able to sequence the Canaanite genome from the remains of five individuals buried in the ancient port city of Sidon (modern Saïda, Lebanon) around 3,700 years ago. The results were compared against the DNA of 99 modern-day Lebanese residents.  NationalGeographic

Canaanite Secrets Unraveled

According to the Los Angeles Times, in the last 19 years, a team of archaeologists have been unraveling Canaanite secrets hidden for thousands of years at the Sidon excavation site situated in the Lebanon’s third largest city, Sidon. Archeologists have excavated 160 burial sites from this single excavation site from which they obtained numerous skeletons from the Bronze Era. Tests conducted on the skeletons show that they were over 3,700 years old. The skeletons from the necropolis are believed to be those of ancient Canaanites and this helped archaeologist to get a glimpse of their burial rituals where young children were buried in clay jars while adults were buried in the sand.

Canaanite individuals had been buried in large clay jars.

The Canaanites DNA

The Canaanites lived at the crossroads of the ancient world. They experienced wars, conquests and occupations for millennia, and as a result evolutionary geneticists expected that their DNA would become substantially mixed with incoming populations.

Astonishingly, new genetic analysis shows that scientists were wrong. According to a new study in the American Journal of Human Genetics, today’s Lebanese share a whopping 93% of their DNA with the ancient Canaanites.

The study also found that the Bronze Age inhabitants of Sidon, a major Canaanite city-state in modern-day Lebanon, have the same genetic profile as people living 300 to 800 years earlier in present-day Jordan.

Later known as Phoenicians, the Canaanites have a murky past. Nearly all of their own records have been destroyed over the centuries, so their history has been mostly pieced together from archaeological records and the writings of other ancient peoples. LATimes

The buried remains of a Canaanite adult whose DNA was sequenced in the study. (Claude Doumet-Serhal / The Sidon Excavation)

DNA

First, they investigated the genetic ancestry of the Canaanites themselves. They found that these Bronze Age inhabitants of Sidon shared about half their DNA with local Neolithic peoples and the other half with Chalcolithic Iranians. Interestingly, this genetic profile is nearly identical to the one evolutionary geneticist IosifLazaridis and his team found last year in Bronze Age villagers near ‘Ain Ghazal in modern-day Jordan.

This suggests that Canaanite-related ancestry was spread across a wide region during the Bronze Age and was shared between urban societies on the coast and farming societies further inland. This evidence supports the idea that different Levantine cultural groups such as the Moabites, Israelites, and Phoenicians may have had a common genetic background, the authors said.

The researchers were also able to determine that the genetic mixing of the Levantine and Iranian peoples happened between 6,600 and 3,550 years ago, a range they would be able to narrow down with more ancient DNA samples from the region…

As expected, they found some new additions to the modern Lebanese genome since the Bronze Age. About 7% of modern Lebanese DNA originates from eastern Steppe peoples found in what is now Russia, but wasn’t represented in the Bronze Age Canaanites or their ancestors. What surprised the team was what was missing from their genetic data.

“If you look at the history of Lebanon — after the Bronze Age, especially — it had a lot of conquests,” Haber said. He and Tyler-Smith expected to see greater genetic contributions from multiple conquering peoples, and were surprised that as much as 93% of the Lebanese genome is shared with their Canaanite predecessors.

Though a 7% genetic influx from the Steppe seems very small, that number might be covering some hidden complexities, said Lazaridis, who worked on the Bronze Age Jordanian samples but was not involved in the new study.

Not much is known about the migrations of these eastern Steppe populations, he said. If the genomes of the incoming people were only half Steppe, for example, 14% of the Lebanese genome could have come from the new migrants.  LATimes

Online:  LATimes – The DNA of ancient Canaanites lives on in modern-day Lebanese, genetic analysis shows

National Geographic – Living Descendants of Biblical Canaanites Identified Via DNA

Study:  Continuity and Admixture in the Last Five Millennia of Levantine History from Ancient Canaanite and Present-Day Lebanese Genome Sequences,” and published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Video:  The DNA Of Ancient Canaanites Lives On In Lebanese | Los Angeles Times

Media Trumpets That Bible Is Wrong
Oops, media wrong again.

After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the Lord, “Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Canaanites?” Judges 1:1

after a scientific study asserted that human remains dating to roughly 3,700 years ago from ancient Canaanites had DNA quite similar to Lebanese, many media outlets trumpeted that the Bible was wrong when it claimed the ancient Canaanites were completely destroyed.

David Klinghoffer, in Evolution Newslisted the plethora of media headlines emblazoned with the idea that the Bible was wrong:

  •  “Study disproves the Bible’s suggestion that the ancient Canaanites were wiped out” (The Telegraph)

  • “Bible says Canaanites were wiped out by Israelites but scientists just found their descendants living in Lebanon” (The Independent)

  • “Bronze Age DNA disproves the Bible’s claim that the Canaanites were wiped out: Study says their genes live on in modern-day Lebanese people” (Daily Mail)

  • “Scientists Find Evidence That Ancient Canaanites Survive Today: Was The Bible Wrong?” (Tech Times)

  • “New DNA study casts doubt on Bible claim” (Mother Nature Network)

  • “The Bible was WRONG: Civilisation God ordered to be KILLED still live and kicking” (Express)

  • “Genetic evidence suggests the Canaanites weren’t destroyed after all” (Ars Technica)

  • “Canaanites Weren’t Annihilated by Ancient Israelites After All” (Newser)

  • “Study disproves the Bible’s claim that the ancient Canaanites were wiped out” (Click Lancashire)

  • “Canaanites survived Biblical ‘slaughter’, ancient DNA shows”(ABC Online)

  • “DNA vs the Bible: Israelites did not wipe out the Canaanites” (Cosmos)

  • “The Bible got it wrong: Ancient Canaanites survived and their DNA lives in modern-day Lebanese” (Pulse Headlines)

As Klinghoffer continues:

The first chapter in Judges lists all the places in Israel where the Canaanites persisted, “to this day,” “for they did not drive them out,” “he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land,” etc. God is not happy with this, for “they shall be as snares to you, and their gods shall be a trap to you” (2:3). From the Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 1 (“Canaan”), “The persistence of Canaanites within Israelite territory was a theological problem variously addressed by biblical writers.”

Nor did Asher drive out those living in Akko or Sidon or Ahlab or Akzib or Helbah or Aphek or Rehob. Judges 1:31

Klinghoffer notes:  The ancient DNA evidence comprises the “complete genomes of five Canaanite individuals who lived almost 4,000 years ago in what’s now the modern-day Lebanese city of Sidon” (Science Daily). Interestingly, the Canaanites in that ancient city are among those that the Bible specifically says lived on (Judges 1:31) to cause serious trouble for the Israelites. DailyWire