A Dutch experiment aiming to provide free polymerase to junk-DNA has been postponed after heated debates concerning the ethics of the trial. Prof. dr. Dijkgaarden, head of research integrity committee, has voiced concerns that the trial ‘should not start before we have adequately considered the ethics of the project’. ‘There are a lot of things we have to consider’, says Dijkgaarden, ‘If junk-DNA is really addicted to meaningless replication, shouldn’t we focus on prevention, rather than indulge its addiction?’
Recent years have seen a marked increase in the number of incidents involving rogue junk DNA. Local authorities such as the p53-protein and inhibitors were frequently called into action after reported incidents of junk-DNA corrupting younger genes and mutating proteins in an ‘unfettered desire to replicate themselves’. Scientists observed junk-DNA stealing polymerase from a nucleus in order to replicate itself over and over again. ‘It was quite shocking’ one scientist said. ‘The worst thing is that it only lead to graffiti-like clumps of non-coding GCGCGC-strands. It’s horribly wasteful.’
Several scientists tried to put an end to junk DNA’s never-ending quest for polymerase, but so far their tools have proven ineffective. Martin Ophout, a molecular biologist at the Amsterdam Medical centre, has argued that “simply putting junk DNA in cellular arrest is inhumane”. He has also publicly questioned alternative therapies, such as the conservative ‘gene knock-out’ approach, or the more liberal ‘Tolerance policy’ (allowing junk-DNA to use polymerase once a month), as proposed by Kwang et al. (2010). Ophout concluded that if junk-DNA cannot be prevented from obtaining polymerase, it is better to provide it in a way the cell can at least oversee its use.
Despite the uproar caused by his proposal, Ophout et al. have started the preparations for pilot trials that will aim to provide free polymerase to junk DNA. But with the first batches of polymerase to be handed out early next year, the controversy rages on. Gert Aafkes, who has published widely on cellular creationism, claims that there is no such thing as junk DNA: “All that exists has a meaning. Who are we to doubt God’s design? Most strands of junk-DNA are actually very useful; they have an important signalling function in DNA-replication. Fifty years ago, we thought the TATA-box was a useless piece of junk DNA. Thank God we know better now. ”