Is it possible for a human body to became better by fusing it with new and better genes if other species? I played Mass Effect: Andromeda and this idea just doesn't come out of my head.

I mean - could we possible use the genes of a another species to fain its advantages (only)?

We could really improve the quality of our organism this way.


The answer is to some extent and it depends. One of the biggest problems is that we still don't know how everything works in sufficient detail.

Firstly I assume we are talking about genetically manipulating a sperm and or egg and allowing them to combine and grow naturally rather than attempting to change the genes in all the cells of an adult human (as this would be even more challenging).

An important point to realise is that DNA is not like a blue print for a human body, with one gene specifying one body part or feature and another specifying a different part. Although many genes can be very specific, many more have very wide spread effects. A better analogy would be to think of DNA as a recipe rather than a blue print. Because of this it can be difficult in some cases to predict exactly what will happen if a gene is changed, especially if the change is large and the genes introduced are very alien to the species.

Another important point is that genes are often repurposed. So a gene found in one species might be used for a completely different purpose in a different species if it’s in a different setting. In addition it is not always obvious which genes or groups of genes are responsible for which features anyway.

So it might be possible to some extent, but it’s going to need a large amount of very unethical trial and error. You would not usually expect to be able to pluck a desired feature / gene from one species and insert it into a human and hope to get exactly the same feature.

  • $\begingroup$ So this would take a lot of scientific work on specimens? But (reality-check) this is possible one way or another? Would it be better to maybe change our genes than introduce new ones or replace existing ones (I think you can add more genes to the DNA - more than a human has)? $\endgroup$ Oct 14 '17 at 18:54
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    $\begingroup$ I think a limited version of what you are thinking about might be possible. We could certainly remove genes that we know cause serious problems, but let me illustrate the problems with an example. The gene that causes sickle cell anaemia involves a single methyl group being replaced in the haemoglobin molecule – a tiny change with massive effects. But although people who inherit two copies of the sickle cell gene suffer from sickle cell anaemia, a single copy of this gene can also provide a limited immunity against malaria $\endgroup$
    – Slarty
    Oct 14 '17 at 19:07
  • $\begingroup$ Wow, amazing. I didn't know that. $\endgroup$ Oct 14 '17 at 19:14

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