Make your own genetic warrior horde
When making a genetic warrior horde, it is important to keep several things in mind. For instance, you'll want your horde to be fearless and love to take orders.
A Rutgers University geneticist has found that turning off a specific gene for the protein stathmin makes mice fearless. The story speculates that this research might improve treatment for phobias. It does not mention obvious military applications for the discovery.
Couple this with manipulating the gene that manages fatigue, you've got yourself a soldier that won't stop until something's dead.
As noted in this Naval Officer's guide for managing fatigue, the use of amphetamines to stay alert, followed by sedatives to sleep, has a long tradition. Genetic treatments may offer an alternative to pharmaceuticals.
Next, there is a brain cell that assigns values to different items. There neurons play a role in how a person selects different items from a set. How does this help your genetic warrior horde? Dr Camillo Padaoa-Schioppa and John Assad, an associate professor of neurobiology, found neurons involved in assigning values that help people to make choices. Eliminate the desire to make choices, and you have yourself a fine instrument of bidding.
"The neurons we have identified encode the value individuals assign to the available items when they make choices based on subjective preferences, a behavior called economic choice," Padoa-Schioppa said in a statement.
The scientists, who reported the findings in the journal Nature, located the neurons in an area of the brain known as the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) while studying macaque monkeys which had to choose between different flavors and quantities of juices.
They correlated the animals' choices with the activity of neurons in the OFC with the valued assigned to the different types of juices. Some neurons would be highly active when the monkeys selected three drops of grape juice, for example, or 10 drops of apple juice.
Earlier research involving the OFC showed that lesions in the area seem to have an association with eating disorders, compulsive gambling and unusual social behavior, which is key for a mindless geneticlly manipulated warrior.
The new findings show an association between the activity of the OFC and the mental valuation process underlying choice behavior, according to the scientists.
"A concrete possibility is that various choice deficits may result from an impaired or dysfunctional activity of this population (of neurons), though this hypothesis remains to be tested," Padoa-Schioppa.
Lastly, when composing your warrior cookie cutter, you want to make sure it is low mantinence. Researchers have genetically engineered mice with the ability to heal wounds at an accelerated pace. The research started with analysis of genes linked to blood vessel formation and inadvertently created a breed of mouse with significantly thickened skin, swollen ears, noses and eyelids. With this mutation, tests showed these mice also had the ability to rapidly heal wounds - two millimeter-wide holes created in the mice's ears closed completely within 28 days.
The genetically modified mice produced large amounts of a protein called Angiopoietin-related Growth Factor, or AGF, in a type of thickened skin cell called epidermal keratinocytes. The resulting transgenic mice showed an increased number of blood vessels in the dermis, implying that AGF does indeed promote blood vessel formation.