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Super Soldier Theories - Creating A 'plausible Possibility"?


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Monte Carlos are in the bikkie tin over there *pointing* :cookie:

 

Righto, on with this thread!!!

 

As stated previously, I am starting this thread in order to gain some understanding, clarification and confirmation of the reading I have done in the past few weeks, as I attempt to develop a 'plausible possibility' for the origination of my super-soldier-type character in the piece I am writing. For those not up to speed, check here for some background information on me and my goal.

 

I have been studying information in a number of areas from epigenetics, genetic engineering and human enhancement as well as retroviruses, DNA and behaviour, as well as numerous other areas. Nearly all of it has been way over my head, but after many re-readings, I have garnered enough information to take a stab at how this could possibly come about. I apologise for the lack of correct terminology and my 'simple' understanding of the area. I have tried to write this in the least offensive way possible, while still being understandable for myself.

 

Here is a list of the features for my human guinea pig, and how I think they may be implemented. This is not set in stone, but I am trying to keep it within the realm of believable. 'Plausible Possibility', remember? :cutewink:

 

  • Muscle Strength Enhancement - mutate DNA segment or block the production of myostatin to prevent limitations on muscle growth; increase the expression for the metabolism gene (DNA methylation?)
  • Greater Endurance - would come with the increased metabolism?
  • Cognitive Enhancement - alter the genes that alter the brain's supply of neurochemicals (hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters) - DNA methylation?
  • Ability to operate without sleep for days/needing only a few hours at night - 'turn on' the gene that allows unihemispheric sleep, as well as adjusting the number of hours needed each night to 3, maybe less? We are talking about long lost genes in our 'junk' DNA here
  • Greater metabolic energy - increase the expression for the metabolism gene
  • Immunity to Pain - 'turn down' pain receptors (methylation) and increase interactions between the nervous and immune systems (enhance opioid production from immune cells)
  • Enhanced Sight and Hearing, Agility and Reflexes - increase the genes parameters
  • Enhanced Healing - 'turn on' the lost gene for rapid regeneration
  • Increased Aggression - one of my first thoughts was for him to have the MAO-A gene mutation, as well as the violent upbringing to cause the extreme aggression. Could I introduce two MAO-A gene mutations, making him more aggressive?

I am not talking about serums or exposure to certain rays. He is still human, he can be killed just the same as anyone else. He is not immortal.

 

My problem however is time. At what point would these genetic alterations have to take place? My understanding is that the introduction of a new gene would only be apparent in successive generations. Do I need to use artistic license here to speed up the process? Or could a retrovirus containing all the changes be introduced, making sure that the virus is not transferable to others? Will I have to create more of a backstory if it must be introduced via mother or grandmother?

 

Or have I got the wrong end of the stick completely? My limited knowledge of the 'how' process is making it difficult for me to understand the significant steps forwards being currently made in these fields. :unsure:

 

I understand that I may need to use more artistic licence than I originally hoped. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

 

Miss Gypsy

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Sounds like fun?

But definetly use the copy number polymorphisms (or variants) (CNP/CNV) because that is something that occurs during one's lifetime. The mechanism i mentioned: http://scienceforums.com/topic/19919-epigenetics-exploring/page__view__findpost__p__307469 here requires progeneration to manifest itself. InDels only happen during replication, so....

 

Ohhh, but what if every cell divided at once, in some sort of metamorphic phase (sleep?) and then the "least fit" cell from each pair would senesce and atrophy, and be reabsorbed for fuel, after emerging from the metamorphosis.... Then you could use those more limited or restricted genetic mechanisms more liberally.

 

[*]Enhanced Healing - 'turn on' the lost gene for rapid regeneration

...Turning "on" that gene mean turning off many other genes first, I think:

One principle seems to be: the more specialized an organism's cells are, the less ability there is for those cells (or limbs) to regenerate. But maybe you could, in a metamorphic phase/state, have the specialization revert (or become inhibited) for a brief period, and then take advantage of that.

 

~ :)

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Sounds like fun?

 

I wish!! I've had to re-read and google stuff so many times just for me to understand what people are saying. *sigh* If only I was smarter........

 

Ohhh, but what if every cell divided at once, in some sort of metamorphic phase (sleep?) and then the "least fit" cell from each pair would senesce and atrophy, and be reabsorbed for fuel, after emerging from the metamorphosis.... Then you could use those more limited or restricted genetic mechanisms more liberally.

 

So if he were placed into a hyper-extended sleep phase, I could bring about this progeneration or replication? In which copy number variations could be used to enhance and duplicate the specific cells they want, after which the 'least fit' ones die off, leaving the new, enhanced ones. Yes?? Once he is in the hyper-extended sleep, how would the body's replication phase be accessed/started? How would I replicate his cells?

 

...Turning "on" that gene mean turning off many other genes first, I think:

One principle seems to be: the more specialized an organism's cells are, the less ability there is for those cells (or limbs) to regenerate. But maybe you could, in a metamorphic phase/state, have the specialization revert (or become inhibited) for a brief period, and then take advantage of that.

 

~ :)

 

I only want to increase the speed with which he recovers from injury. If he cuts his finger, then the speed at which it heals would be greater than that of a normal human. Not superhuman speed, I mean, if he loses his arm, that's it!! He's not getting another one!! More that his body's reaction and healing process reacts quicker. He's not a T-1000 or Jeebs. :) Perhaps I should be increasing the number of, or expression from, the cells that promote healing??

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Hi MissGypsy! Glad to see you’ve started your promised soldier thread

Here is a list of the features for my human guinea pig, and how I think they may be implemented. This is not set in stone, but I am trying to keep it within the realm of believable. 'Plausible Possibility', remember? :cutewink:

Your biochemical stuff seem right-on to me – the idea of gene tweaking a human to enable him to sleep with half his brain at one time strikes me as especially cool and pretty unique in fiction. My criticism – as you’re here, I assume, mainly for criticism, not praise – is not with your biology, but with your implied idea of what constitutes a good soldier – that is, what traits should be amplified to produce a super soldier – and your lack of any mention of non-biological enhancements – biomechanical and cybernetic implants, “nanites”, etc.

 

  • Increased Aggression - one of my first thoughts was for him to have the MAO-A gene mutation, as well as the violent upbringing to cause the extreme aggression. Could I introduce two MAO-A gene mutations, making him more aggressive?

Although “aggression” is commonly listed as an essential soldier trait – especially in fighter pilots and other high-exposure, kill-or-be-killed roles – I think that this “controlled” aggression is different than that exhibited by people with the so-called “warrior gene” (this article suggests that it “might be called other things, such as the gambling gene, the depression gene, the irritability gene, or, even the live-in-a-trailer”) that causes abnormalities in MAO-A gene expression, a contributing factor to what I think’s best termed impulsive aggression. A good soldier, I think, learns aggression, rather than inheriting it.

 

Thinking of this specific gene segues into the larger question of whether a good – or a super – soldier should be psychologically normal or abnormal, neurotypical or neuroatypical. On one hand, a psychologically normal person has many behavior inhibitors that interfere with being an effective soldier – primarily an instinctive aversion to killing. On the other, an abnormal psyche lacking these inhibitions – say a psychopath, to use an outmoded but still IMHO useful term – also lacks behaviors that promote being an effective soldier, such as loyalty and willingness to sacrifice oneself to save others.

 

In the final analysis, I think the ultimate soldier psyche is one that is very normal/healthy, but distinct from ordinary ones by it heightened bravery trait. The key question, then, is is this trait best amplified by artificial means – gene therapy, surgery, psychoactive drugs – or by training?

 

My guess favors training. So, a super soldier story, I think, needs to avoid the idea that super soldier can be “made in the lab” and just decanted, and focus on the need for super training. A lot of great fiction takes this approach – Orson Scot Card’s Ender’s Game is surely high on most readers’ lists.

 

My problem however is time. At what point would these genetic alterations have to take place? My understanding is that the introduction of a new gene would only be apparent in successive generations. Do I need to use artistic license here to speed up the process? Or could a retrovirus containing all the changes be introduced, making sure that the virus is not transferable to others? Will I have to create more of a backstory if it must be introduced via mother or grandmother?

Speaking personally as a reader with a bit of biochemistry knowledge, I’d believe a story in which a slew of genetic alterations are made to the future super soldier’s fertilized egg (zygote) – possibly including a “grow up fast” gene – much more easily than I’d believe one in which they’re made to mature cells via tricky vectors like retroviruses.

 

I don’t see any need to start further back than the individual, to tinker with his parents, their parents, etc., in order to breed our super soldiers, although super soldiers with identical genetic modifications should be able to reproduce normally to make future generations of super soldiers, eliminating the need for costly and possibly unreliable zygote gene surgery. There could be some good plot element in this: Since the limiting factor on normal reproduction is the number of fertile women, not men, super soldiers might be 90%+ female, with just a small minority of male “sperm donors” required by a many-generation military breeding program. Opting out of this program might be difficult, making our super soldiers effectively life-long (or at least ‘till menopause or “andropause”) slaves.

 

Finally, what about implants? “Jacks” that allow soldiers to perceive, communicate, and use machines directly with their brains and nerves, reinforced bones and tendons, implanted medical monitoring and drug dispensing devices, and finally, “nanites” (AKA “nannies”, or my favorite “sawbonites”), tiny “free-swimming” robots that can alter and repair cells are de rigueur in the super soldier literary genre.

 

While some of this fiction is pretty silly, especially given the implausibility of Drexlarian nanotechnology, I expect that both future civilians and soldiers will take advantage of implanted devices as soon as the technology is available – as implanted heat pacemakers and replacement valves have been for about a generation. Perhaps one of the super soldier gene mods would be to suppress their immune systems’ rejection of foreign bodies, allowing them to be loaded up with implants impossible for a normal person. Perhaps their immune systems would be so suppressed they would die without implanted artificial replacements.

 

Far-out as it may be, I enjoy stories in this vein, both the more plausible jacks and implants kind, and the bizarre nanite kind. My favorite of the latter isn’t a traditional book, but the long-running web comic Schlock Mercenary, in which medical nanites figure prominently in nearly every story arc, and nearly every character has been nanoscopically reassembled from a cryogenically preserved head or less at least once.

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Thankyou for your in depth and helpful reply CraigD. I have spent the days since your post digesting the information and suggestions you have made. And I have made some serious headway into solving problems. Yay! :woohoo: A packet of Tim Tams are your reward.

 

Speaking personally as a reader with a bit of biochemistry knowledge, I’d believe a story in which a slew of genetic alterations are made to the future super soldier’s fertilized egg (zygote) – possibly including a “grow up fast” gene – much more easily than I’d believe one in which they’re made to mature cells via tricky vectors like retroviruses.

 

I like this angle too. I've been playing out a number of backstory options, and I've developed a fairly decent one regarding the genetic alterations happening to his zygote. You are correct, highly specified training is the more effective and plausible way of creating a super solider. I am however, still thinking of running with a combination of training and genetic alterations, but limiting the number of alterations. I'm thinking of keeping the muscle enhancement via blocked myostatin production, as we already know that this is possible in humans. I'm also going to keep the 'warrior gene' but limit it to the one and make it already part of his DNA (they didn't introduce it - so did they miss it??? :o Stay tuned!! ). This helps another element in my plot development, and steers it away from any 'Incredible Hulk' aggression-related similarities. :) I'm also definitely keeping the unihemispheric sleep ability. I know humans that can make cups of tea and hold conversations whilst sleep walking, so perhaps it isn't such an unbelievable reality. And besides, it's just way too damn cool not to have it!!!!! B)

 

 

Your biochemical stuff seem right-on to me – the idea of gene tweaking a human to enable him to sleep with half his brain at one time strikes me as especially cool and pretty unique in fiction. My criticism – as you’re here, I assume, mainly for criticism, not praise – is not with your biology, but with your implied idea of what constitutes a good soldier – that is, what traits should be amplified to produce a super soldier – and your lack of any mention of non-biological enhancements – biomechanical and cybernetic implants, “nanites”, etc.

 

I am glad my biochemical stuff appears correct - with all the reading I've been doing I feel like I've been studying for Year 12 final exams! And yes, I am here for criticism and correction, all this biochemical stuff is not my field of expertise (I'm not even sure I have a field of expertise!?)

 

Yes, I deliberately haven't mentioned any non-biological enhancements as I didn't want him having any. I was trying to stay away from the Van Damme UniSol-type soldier, and for a reason. This guy is the result of unauthorised (?) experiments performed by a high covert project. This guy has to be able to infiltrate criminal organisations, countries of 'concern' etc - he needs to look normal. I've had all sorts of wonderful ideas involving nano technology and brain implants and computer chips and kick-*** weapons....but that's not really where I wanted to go with him. (Hmmm - I might have to create a different character to use all this fantastic technology and the genetic enhancements I ditched.......so many ideas.......)

 

So are there traits that I should be amplifying to create a super soldier? What areas have I missed, do you think? I am not against the idea of nanites, if it will help create and sell the idea of him being this super soldier. I was trying to keep him a 'complete' human, but I may need to forego this, and introduce some implant technology. I'm not sure.

 

Although “aggression” is commonly listed as an essential soldier trait – especially in fighter pilots and other high-exposure, kill-or-be-killed roles – I think that this “controlled” aggression is different than that exhibited by people with the so-called “warrior gene” (this article suggests that it “might be called other things, such as the gambling gene, the depression gene, the irritability gene, or, even the live-in-a-trailer”) that causes abnormalities in MAO-A gene expression, a contributing factor to what I think’s best termed impulsive aggression. A good soldier, I think, learns aggression, rather than inheriting it.

 

I got the idea for the 'warrior gene' from an episode of CSI that aired here a couple of months ago. The killer in question was trying to convince a jury that he couldn't be accountable for his actions, his 'warrior gene' made him do it. It was then that the CSI investigator explained to the jury that he also had the 'warrior gene' and yet he wasn't a serial killer, he had made the choice to be good, to do good. You may or may not know what I'm referring to. This was the light bulb moment for me. Without giving away the story :cutewink: this was the key piece I needed for the audience to 'like' him. Yes, he is the ultimate antihero - he murders, tortures, threatens, extorts, etc - but he's doing it to rid society of the unwanted - murderers, rapists, drug dealers paedophiles etc. My guy is choosing to do good on behalf of the good people in society, therefore we forgive him for choosing such a violent, and normally, society-rejecting approach - we actually champion his cause.

 

 

As you correctly said, training is the key and his training is extreme - military training from Army, Navy, Marines; special operations training, stealth and infiltration training, hand-to-hand combat, several martial art forms. He has had weapons training (skilled marksman) but his skill at hand-to-hand combat is his trump card. I agree that his training and how he thinks as an individual is the more likely road for super soldier creation. But I would like to combine this with his genetic alterations, making his existence and creation both possible and highly unlikely at the same time. I think he will require training to be able to direct this aggression to the correct party - I'm thinking some kind of extreme mental training, but not as far as hypnotism or brain washing. My main point is as the story progresses, he begins to understand that he does have control over who he is, he controls his actions, his decisions. I just don't want to get too heavily into the whole brain manipulation scenario, it's too complex for what I'm trying to do. I'm going to have to do some more thinking on how he is trained to control and target his inherent and learned aggression.

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  • 1 month later...

it seems to me you have all overlooked the main item! You have to deal with motive. Making a human individual or line of individuals aggressive does not make them warrior-able or warrior-intent. He has to believe he is doing something honorable and uplifting for his "group" whether it is nation, race, religion or other. We all like to be respected by others of "our group."

 

For example, if your warrior-man were drafted to fight in a war that did not interest him, he would serve because he feared punishment for dissertion, and he would fight not to let down his squad and platoon buddies, but he would also be in danger of resorting to suicide or at least end up when it is over with severe emotional trauma from war's gruesome experiences.

 

Another point: he would need to be immune to a natural human abbhorance of disfigurement, body parts, blood, and the cutting of flesh. I once had anatomy and then dissection. The cadaver was cold, had patches of green fungus on it and stank of formalin.

I was chosen to do the first cutting and did indeed begin opening up the cadaver. Before that class term had ended, nothing on earth could any longer make me squeemish. I could have butchered bodies of anything anywhere without hesitation. To this day, I love to carve up the turkey or chicken for dinner and debone the left overs to get every bit of the meat. It is, after all, a million-year old instinctive inclination of the hunter in the hunter/gathering part of our evolved nature. We can cut animals but protect our group members.

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Good and interesting point, Charles :thumbs_up

Another point: he would need to be immune to a natural human abbhorance of disfigurement, body parts, blood, and the cutting of flesh. I once had anatomy and then dissection. The cadaver was cold, had patches of green fungus on it and stank of formalin.

I was chosen to do the first cutting and did indeed begin opening up the cadaver. Before that class term had ended, nothing on earth could any longer make me squeemish. I could have butchered bodies of anything anywhere without hesitation.

This reminds me of a common folk tale, which I’ve no reason to doubt is based in fact, about the training of medieval Japanese samurai warriors, which describes their training as involving practicing cutting animal carcasses, and eventually, executing helpless captured criminals and/or enemy soldiers. The idea was to remove any inhibitions to, as you put it, “the cutting of flesh” before they found themselves needing to do it in a survival-critical encounter on the battlefield. (One of many reference to samurai practicing on prisoners is here)

 

To this day, I love to carve up the turkey or chicken for dinner and debone the left overs to get every bit of the meat.

My father was a surgeon, and at various occasions a necropsy-performing medical examiner, and had just the opposite sensibility. He distinctly disliked carving cooked meat – which was inconvenient, as in social occasions, people tend to request the surgeon on hand do the meat carving. He explained to me that a good surgeon cultivates a “feel” for the health or lack of health of living tissue, and that to him, cutting a turkey felt faintly like performing surgery on a dead, burnt body with no hope of recovery – which, in fact, it is.

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Making a human individual or line of individuals aggressive does not make them warrior-able or warrior-intent. He has to believe he is doing something honorable and uplifting for his "group" whether it is nation, race, religion or other.

Fully agree that raw aggression is not a desirable trait. The hardest part of training is instilling aggression tempered by situational awareness and a dehumanization of the enemy tempered by obedience to orders. This is where small unit leadership is so crucial, with failures leading to atrocities like Mai Lai and Abu Graib. However, camaraderie and mutual trust/dependence quickly trumps noble ideas when things get hairy. Patriotism may encourage enlistment, but the will to survive, or the fear of letting your fellow troops down, is what gets you through a firefight.

 

 

For example, if your warrior-man were drafted to fight in a war that did not interest him, he would serve because he feared punishment for dissertion, and he would fight not to let down his squad and platoon buddies, but he would also be in danger of resorting to suicide or at least end up when it is over with severe emotional trauma from war's gruesome experiences.

Of course increased rates of suicide, depression, isolation, and a general inability to "re-acclimatize" back to civilian life are not limited to draftees, but that's another topic.

 

Another point: he would need to be immune to a natural human abbhorance of disfigurement, body parts, blood, and the cutting of flesh.

Immunity is probably a poor word. I would use desensitized. The idea is to train repeatedly through various scenarios in order to let "training take over" in high-stress situations. Far more than just gory scenes can bring on that "deer in the headlights" type of mental shutdown that repetitive training aims to prevent, such as sleep and food deprivation, disorientation, boredom followed by violent chaos, adrenaline flooding, etc. If this desensitization could be improved upon artificially, I think most armies would jump at the chance. (cf. methamphetamine use in WWII).

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if you just want a killing machine then why not build a robot?

 

Well, they just don't work as well yet, but in time . . .

 

Oh, and I think my main point has been overlooked. It still depends upon motive.

and that can only partially depend on training. It depends upon the dedication of the individual to his society. For example, when Mohammed organized his followers into an army, they swept across the Near East cutting down huge armies set against them. It was the enthusiasm of a new religion that animated and made them successful. Then, when Islam had grown old and too rich, small barbarian Armies from Christendom cut through their bloated defenses and conquered the very heart of Islam, Jeruselem where Mohammed was supposed to have departed for a vist it with God, Jesus, and the others. It is of note that the US is unwilling to put up with losses that cannot compare with those lost in number in previous wars. It is a trend.

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Do you mean motive of the nation sending people to fight, or motive of the troops to fight? If the former, then our experience in Afghanistan/Iraq/Libya/Yemen/Somalia/Lebanon/Vietnam/Korea... is a proper example. If the later, then your example fails, as there are not any mass desertions. My point was that your point (It depends upon the dedication of the individual to his society), when in battle, becomes irrelevant. No one gives a damn about patriotism, religion, or any other great ism when rounds are going down range. It is the dedication of the indivual to those around him, and the ability of his leaders to maintain morale, that keeps a man fighting. This is almost solely a function of training, and a truism from the Bronze Age to today.

 

 

The wonderful love of a beautiful maid,

The love of a staunch true man,

The love of a baby, unafraid,

Have existed since time began.

 

But the greatest of loves, The quintessence of loves.

even greater than that of a mother,

Is the tender, passionate, infinite love,

of one drunken Marine for another.:phones:

Edited by JMJones0424
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I think the concept of motive has still been largely overlooked here. The effectiveness of an army has largely to do with the ideological enthusiasm of its men. History affords many examples. Mohammed managed to lead small armies that conquered huge cities and nations because his followers were driven by a young and then vigiorous new religion. Six hundred years later, his fat and prosperous society was invaded by a string of vigorously-Christian barbarian armies that cut right ithrough their bloated armies into the second most "holy" land of Islam, Jeruselem, take it over and colonize it. The small "hoards" of vigorous, hardy Huns who also invaded Islam also cut through the huge armies of Islam and left behind mountains of skulls.

 

It should be of note that every war since the Civil War has meant a smaller percentage of casuallties the US has tolerated to win. Now we are in the age of terrorists and suicide bombers. Their willingness to die for the cause is perhaps among the highest in history. In the intermediate term, we are in great danger. . .

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Do you mean motive of the nation sending people to fight, or motive of the troops to fight? If the former, then our experience in Afghanistan/Iraq/Libya/Yemen/Somalia/Lebanon/Vietnam/Korea... is a proper example. If the later, then your example fails, as there are not any mass desertions. My point was that your point (It depends upon the dedication of the individual to his society), when in battle, becomes irrelevant. No one gives a damn about patriotism, religion, or any other great ism when rounds are going down range. It is the dedication of the indivual to those around him, and the ability of his leaders to maintain morale, that keeps a man fighting. This is almost solely a function of training, and a truism from the Bronze Age to today.:phones:

 

Certainly, the nature of all small group hunting and war parties is that each male depends upon and supports the others, that being true of human as well as other animal groups. But that does break down when the worth of their society to them breaks down, and it could be because the rich are growing fat at their expense, something that is not the case among other small mammal groups. In them, the males hunt and fight for their very iown group's females and offspring as in any human hunting-gathering group and not for a mass of uninvolved men and women that comprises the nation and society..

 

The small group cohesion can also break down because ideological division has become so serious that cooperating breaks down making the society increasingly inept and hence comanding disdain instead of respect. Morale drops and social problems proliferate as they have in the last several generations. Thus, the fighters feel deserted by the larger group for whom they are fighting. The media plays up the nation's appreciation for their dedication, but it does not ring true. They feel deserted. Troops are being withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan and held back from Libia only because the suicide and stress syndrome symptoms indicate a precipitous collapse of troop morale would otherwise arrive. The lesson of history should be taken seriously. There is a reason why it occurred then and why it is in danger of happening soon here.

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As stated previously, I am starting this thread in order to gain some understanding, clarification and confirmation of the reading I have done in the past few weeks, as I attempt to develop a 'plausible possibility' for the origination of my super-soldier-type character in the piece I am writing. For those not up to speed, check here for some background information on me and my goal.

 

I have been studying information in a number of areas from epigenetics, genetic engineering and human enhancement as well as retroviruses, DNA and behaviour, as well as numerous other areas. Nearly all of it has been way over my head, but after many re-readings, I have garnered enough information to take a stab at how this could possibly come about. I apologise for the lack of correct terminology and my 'simple' understanding of the area. I have tried to write this in the least offensive way possible, while still being understandable for myself.

 

Here is a list of the features for my human guinea pig, and how I think they may be implemented. This is not set in stone, but I am trying to keep it within the realm of believable. 'Plausible Possibility', remember?

 

 

Muscle Strength Enhancement - He was born with it. It wasn't necessary to enhance, his parents were of German heritage, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5278028/ns/health-genetics/t/genetic-mutationturns-tot-superboy/ This was featured in a genetics text I studied, the DNA segment was found to block production of a protein called myostatin that limits muscle growth.

 

Greater Endurance - See below

 

Cognitive Enhancement - nanites which read fatigue levels, and boost chemistry levels accordingly. Not necessarily science fiction for long. Biochips could do be adapted to do such a thing. See the wiki info for Nanorobotics. Or, as the wiki reads - Nubot is an abbreviation for "nucleic acid robots". Nubots are synthetic robotics devices at the nanoscale. Representative nubots include the several DNA walkers reported by Nadrian Seeman's group at NYU, Niles Pierce's group at Caltech, John Reif's group at Duke University, Chengde Mao's group at Purdue, and Andrew Turberfield's group at the University of OxfordAbility to operate without sleep for days/needing only a few hours at night - He could be born with this as well, my genetic text cites there is a family with a particular gene that wakes them normally, and they function on 4 hours of sleep. http://www.nih.gov/researchmatters/September2009/09212009sleep.htm

 

Greater metabolic energy - rations laced with powder which does this. (If you want to get technical, take a look at metabolism under wikipedia particularly this section

 

"Metabolism (from Greek μεταβολισμός (metabolismos), "outthrow") is the set of chemical reactions that happen in living organisms to maintain life. These processes allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments. Metabolism is usually divided into two categories. Catabolism breaks down organic matter, for example to harvest energy in cellular respiration. Anabolism uses energy to construct components of cells such as proteins and nucleic acids.

 

The chemical reactions of metabolism are organized into metabolic pathways, in which one chemical is transformed through a series of steps into another chemical, by a sequence of enzymes. Enzymes are crucial to metabolism because they allow organisms to drive desirable reactions that require energy and will not occur by themselves, by coupling them to spontaneous reactions that release energy. As enzymes act as catalysts they allow these reactions to proceed quickly and efficiently. Enzymes also allow the regulation of metabolic pathways in response to changes in the cell's environment or signals from other cells.

 

The metabolism of an organism determines which substances it will find nutritious and which it will find poisonous. For example, some prokaryotes use hydrogen sulfide as a nutrient, yet this gas is poisonous to animals.[1] The speed of metabolism, the metabolic rate, also influences how much food an organism will require."

 

Immunity to Pain - See answers above

Enhanced Sight and Hearing, Agility and Reflexes - See answers above

Enhanced Healing - nanite patches. You have to use some artistic license here, it's not been done - YET. (Do you see a theme with my answers here, how can you tell I'm studying nanotechnology?) http://genome.wellcome.ac.uk/doc_WTD020903.html

Increased Aggression - What about a brain injury? Or this....heheh pheromones http://www.nih.gov/researchmatters/december2007/12172007mice.htm

 

I am not talking about serums or exposure to certain rays. He is still human, he can be killed just the same as anyone else. He is not immortal.

 

My problem however is time. At what point would these genetic alterations have to take place? My understanding is that the introduction of a new gene would only be apparent in successive generations. Do I need to use artistic license here to speed up the process? Or could a retrovirus containing all the changes be introduced, making sure that the virus is not transferable to others? Will I have to create more of a backstory if it must be introduced via mother or grandmother?

 

That could be an interesting lead in, troubled youth, prone to aggression, heavy drug usage, looking for family and a need to fit in, been in and out of prison, make it ugly -- hell I've dated soldiers with these backgrounds. While the sample size isn't the greatest, I've dated three men who fit this profile - and then my own father (minus the stint in prison) fits it as well, took off from home at 14 after being beaten by his mother who was a few bricks short of a full load. He hitch hiked across Canada and lied his way into the army at 16, another woman I met while working at the heritage aviation society (she was in her 80's) was a decorated pilot who flew supplies over - she also lied her way into the army at 16. When the need is great, people tend to turn a blind eye to the age of the individual who's willing.

Or have I got the wrong end of the stick completely? My limited knowledge of the 'how' process is making it difficult for me to understand the significant steps forwards being currently made in these fields.

 

I understand that I may need to use more artistic licence than I originally hoped. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

 

Miss Gypsy

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Muscle Strength Enhancement - mutate DNA segment or block the production of myostatin to prevent limitations on muscle growth; increase the expression for the metabolism gene (DNA methylation?)

Don't forget follistatin. http://scienceforums.com/topic/12933-mighty-mice-made-mightier

 

Greater Endurance - would come with the increased metabolism?

Greater metabolic energy - increase the expression for the metabolism gene

Ability to operate without sleep for days/needing only a few hours at night -

Increased Aggression -

http://hypography.com/forums/news-brief/13258-genetically-engineered-super-mouse-stuns-scientists.html

give him triple the normal number of mitochondria-per-cell.

Bigger adrenal glands,

 

Cognitive Enhancement - alter the genes that alter the brain's supply of neurochemicals (hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters) - DNA methylation?

I'd look into the "study helper" chemicals people peddle to university students, and Ritalin. Some implanted artificial gland that produces them.

 

 

My problem however is time. At what point would these genetic alterations have to take place?

Depends, If you piggybacked the myostatin and folliostatin genes onto a carrier virus, it would give a short term effect, but you seem to be looking for a form of permanency.

 

You could go a different route: artificial DNA. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37256799/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/its-alive-artificial-dna-controls-life/

John Smith has a culture of each major tissue type(muscle groups, organs, bone marrow) collected, his DNA is extracted from the cultures and mapped. After mapping new synthetic DNA based off of the original blueprint is injected into the now vacant cells, which are cultured. The super-cells are then re-injected into John Smith; having the same markers as they originally did, there is no immune-response.

 

This opens up some other intersting ideas:

the synthetic DNA could have much longer telomeres, allowing the enhanced cells to reproduce for a longer time and supplement, or eventually replace, the basic cells.

Your John Smith could be 120 years old, with barely a shred of his original cells left; At what point does he stop being the man he was? Does he worry that most of his body is(or eventually will be) made of frankenstein cells? Is he mad at what "they" did(are doing) to him? There's your aggression right there.

 

 

 

You're not the only one to talk about super soldiers. check this thread out: http://scienceforums.com/topic/14946-supersoldier-serum/

 

 

Edit: additional thoughts.

 

He needs Resistance to disease!

A LOT of pharmaceuticals are produced by vats of GM bacteria. GM whatever strain(s) of bacteria are in John Smith's intestines; he has a constant antiviral and antibacterial suppository.

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It might be possible to bolster the immune system by modifying bacteria in the gut, tho it might not be achievable in exactly the way you've described.

The plethora of fauna we already have have been shown to have a drastic effect on the development of the immune system by directly affecting how t-cells function. Some of them help determine t-cell function after development (ex, determining if the t-cell will exhibit a pro or anti inflammatory response). Some of them are responsible for stimulating the production of the t-cells in the first place (segmented filamentous bacterium).

Basically, the helpful bacteria (and possibly even dormant strains of virus) are working symbiotically with the immune system to alter the instruction sets for T-Cells.

So you wouldn't necessarily want to alter them to produce antibiotics or antivirals, especially given that the overuse thereof in medical care is already producing resistant strains.

Instead of say, pumping the body full of a constant supply of penicillin, you might instead want to create bacteria that arms the t-cells during their development with instruction sets that help them better recognize invasive microbes.

This might be even better when you take into consideration that some antibiotics have been shown to reduce the production of cytotoxic t-cells by way of having a negative impact on the bacteria in the gut that are responsible for promoting their development. They are a bit of a trade off, you slightly weaken the bodies natural immune response but in return you get a ready made toxin that disrupts the life cycle of the infectious species. If it has developed a resistance tho, you may just be crippling your own natural immune response without the benefit of clearing up the infection.

 

Antivirals may or may not work in a similar way, I have yet to look into it, but either way, I think the better option is to modify t-cell function.

 

After all, an ounce of vaccination already appears to be worth a pound of antiviral.

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