3
$\begingroup$

The risk with bio-weapons is that they can spread uncontrolled, you risk your own side being killed by them. However, in theory an attempt can be made to prevent this. If the weapon was designed to target certain DNA markers (how I'm not sure) then theoretically you could manage to force it to kill only those with those DNA markers, which may include 90% of a group of people from an enemy region, but only 4% of your own solders from a different region.

My question is, how realistic is it to make a bio-weapon designed to focus on attacking a given group of genetically-related individuals, and if it can be done what are the risk of mutation leading it to attacking individuals that were intended to be immune to it?

$\endgroup$
4
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm - the genocide bomb. Now all we have to do is make it sensitive to people's religion. $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Aug 5 '15 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK not genocide, odds are some will survive technically. In all honesty if we ever used bio weapons the only way i see it being done is this or a very short number of generations before a 'kill swtich' kicks in. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 5 '15 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ @dsollen I'm not sure that genocide needs to be 100% efficient before we can call it "genocide". $\endgroup$ – Doug Warren Aug 5 '15 at 19:54
  • $\begingroup$ @dsollen - genocide - the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group. google.co.uk/?gws_rd=ssl#q=genocide+definition Your DNA detector could selectively target people of a particular ethnic group. For example all people with pale skin and blue eyes. This would kill many Scandinavians preferentially over people of, say, Mediterranean stock. $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Aug 6 '15 at 1:04
2
$\begingroup$

While the sides may not be so easily targeted, it's theoretically possible.

It's unlikely that your enemies will actually be all that different from you genetically, not in ways that matter. But if you are assuming that such a difference exists (and being a bit liberal with its abilities), then using a CRISPR based bioweapon, you could do some targeted damage to one particular genetic group.

The damage would be caused by targeting a particular genetic marker in the enemy and inserting a rather more malicious bit of genetic code. What that specific marker would be and the mechanism of the malicious genetic code are beyond my moral and genetic engineering boundaries to expand upon.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

No.

The issue is mutation. We've observed bacterial evolution in real time. Even if you could code a disease to only target certain DNA markers, it could very easily change into something that also targets other humans, wiping your own group.

$\endgroup$
3
  • $\begingroup$ I realize mutation is a risk. I'm wondering though if you could create the virus in such a way to defend against mutation. Via a self-screening check that will discard 'children' with mutations, or some way to ensure the virus doesn't function once mutated, or simply having 3-4 different checks such that it's unlikely all of the different sanity checks would be rendered inoperable via mutation $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 6 '15 at 14:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @dsollen: Theoretically but it's a much higher target. Like maybe we could target DNA markers in the next 50-100 years, modifying the virus to reduce mutation will probably be more like 100-250 years in terms of developed tech. WAGs on my part, but it's a lot harder to change the base mechanism. $\endgroup$ – Dan Smolinske Aug 6 '15 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ I also read that, they can reverse the effect with other crisper edit $\endgroup$ – Arun Prasad E S Jan 12 '17 at 15:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.