You’ve probably watched the TV series from the creator of legendary superheroes, Stan Lee, seeking out real life superhumans – people whose remarkable powers stem from being genetically different.
Imagine not being able to feel any pain or having bones so strong that they are nearly unbreakable. Superhumans walk among us and can do things that have scientists scratching their heads. These “off the curve individuals” are setting new parameters.
Isaac Asimov, the famous thinker and sci-fi writer once wrote, “The advance of genetic engineering makes it quite conceivable that we will begin to design our own evolutionary progress.” Now, could scientists copy/paste the genes of superhumans out there?
The options are nearly limitless. Theoretically, if a gene exists, it can be brought over to a human cell. It is therefore not surprising that drug companies are increasingly fascinated by the potential pharmaceutical implications of superhuman traits. So much, that they have started exploiting rare mutations making individuals unique.
Superhumans are out there
Steven Pete, 34, doesn’t feel pain, all because of a twist in his genes. According to his website Pete’s condition was first discovered when as a baby he began chewing his own tongue. Only a few dozen people in the world share his congenital analgesia. “Drug companies see riches in his rare mutation,” Bloomberg reported.
They are also eyeing people like Timothy Dreyer, 25, who was diagnosed as a baby with sclerosteosis, a bone density mutation. His bones are so dense that they are virtually unbreakable.
Both men have suffered throughout their lives because of their superhuman traits. Dreyer has lost his hearing, and Pete has to live with the lasting effects of injuries sustained during his early childhood from not being able to feel pain. His left leg is so severely damaged that doctors will either have to fuse it, which would give him zero mobility, or have it amputated.
Pharmaceutical companies researching rare genetic disorders
Scientists hope that superhumans like Pete and Dreyer will provide a pharmaceutical solution to diseases like osteoporosis and an alternative to opium based pain-killers. Pharmaceutical companies such as Amgen and Genentech are leading the way into researching this rare genetic disorders.
Dreyer and Pete are “a gift from nature,” Andreas Grauer, global development lead for the osteoporosis drug Amgen is creating, told Bloomberg. “It is our obligation to turn it into something useful.”
Well, truth is that not only do pharmaceutical companies have the chance to save lives, they will also get rich. Very rich.
Although both Pete and Dreyer are willing to contribute to scientists’ knowledge, some are wondering what the premise of ownership is, when it comes to mutations in human DNA. Will pharmaceutical companies ultimately own the genes of these superhumans?
What’s your opinion on superhumans DNA? Share your views in the comments section below.