Rewriting The Human DNA

[China To Experiment With Adult DNA]

Genetics is a very exciting field of science which involves tinkering with the human body on the most basic scale to create amazing results.

It is also an extremely powerful science, since just by making a few changes in the genetic makeup, we can drastically change the subject on multiple levels.

This is why there have always been debates and controversies surrounding this topic, as this is the closest we can come to playing God.

However, despite our concerns, the research in this field deserves to be pushed forward, as it could possibly hold the keys to eradicating fatal diseases forever, among other things.

Towards this goal, Chinese researchers are preparing to edit adult human DNA for the first time ever, using the CRISPR/Cas-9 tool.

This experiment will be aimed towards cutting out faulty DNA out of the cells of lung cancer patients who have already been diagnosed as untreatable cases.

As part of the process, the researchers will first extract T-cells from the patients blood and then use CRISPR to delete the gene responsible for the production of a protein called PD-1.

This protein is known to stop T-cells from targeting and killing cancer cells, which is one of the main reasons behind this type of cancer becoming untreatable in the first place.

These modified T-cells will then be grown further in laboratory settings, and then be injected back into the patient. As you can see this method is quite similar to immunotherapy, which is already widely used for treating various diseases.

The whole experiment will be carried out at Sichuan University’s West China Hospital, and if successful will pave the way for a possible cure for lots of fatal diseases.

A major thing to remember however is the fact that this process will only tinker with the immune system, thus leaving the gamete cells alone.

What this means is that even if the patient get treated, they will not be able to pass on the edited genes onto their offspring’s. This is something that is both good and bad.

Good as in it takes care of the worry most people have that this sort of treatment will be used to create genetically superior babies, and bad as in it will not be a possible cure for stopping genetic defects before birth.

Whether you support this sort of treatment or now, it goes without saying that we are entering a whole new realm of medical treatments, and this is just the first step on a very exciting journey.

Article Details

Source: Nature
Category : Medical |
Posted on : 29 Jul 2016 @ 17:06

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