Tag Archives: gene-therapy

Genetically selected babies

dna-manA first for Spain. An earlier version of the story was calling it the first ever, but that can’t be true, can it?

The mother of a child whose life has been saved thanks to the stem cells from the birth of his brother, who was genetically modified to serve such a purpose, has said ‘Andrés is happy.’ The 7 year old boy has now overcome a severe hereditary congenital anaemia, thanks to the blood from Javier Mariscal, his newly born brother.


The couple explained that they had decided not to have another child with the problem, but when the possibility of the Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis arose, they had no doubts, especially as they really wanted another child. Now Andrés will [presumably] have a normal life, instead of living just 35 years, the average for someone with what is now his previous condition.

Wishing the family well, and not wanting to be a Luddite, but readers can probably recite the ethical concerns for themselves.

[DNA Man: tom.arthur]

Geneticists scolded for giving genes silly names

grouchoSome fruit-fly genes have names like these:

Groucho Marx: A fruit fly that produces an excess of facial bristles.

Cheap Date: A fruit fly that expresses high sensitivity to alcohol.

Ken and Barbie: Fruit flies that fail to develop external genitalia.

I’m Not Dead Yet: INDY for short, these are fruit flies who live longer than usual. [NPR explains where this came from, like you don’t know if you’re reading this blog]

Harmless enough, you’d think, but:

Since it’s increasingly likely some fruit fly genes will show up in humans, Dr. [Murray] Feingold [a Massachusetts clinician who treats people with genetic diseases] warns it will not be possible for doctors to hide a scientific name like “I’m Not Dead Yet.”…

And for a doctor, these names become embarrassing “when that gene becomes responsible for some kind of medical problem and I have to tell that patient, ‘Well, I’m sorry things don’t look so good because you have [the] I’m Not Dead Yet gene.'”

So it’s not just PC run amok, but a curious case study in the democratization of information. Your take?

[The immortal Julius Marx: Wikimedia Commons]

Genetic modification of large animals just got easier

Diagram illustrating the process of gene therapyEfforts to genetically modify large animals have been hindered by the fact that the two methods currently used to effect it, somatic cell nuclear transfer or pronuclear injection, are costly, inefficient, difficult, and carry a risk of producing abnormal offspring. Now researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine have successfully produced genetically modified mice and goats by transferring modified genetic information via a harmless virus to male reproductive cells, which then passed the modification on naturally to about 10 percent of the offspring. In other words, genetic modification via gene therapy.

Of course, using this technique on humans in combination with in-vitro fertilization and careful weeding of the resulting embryos in order to create a genetically modified super race with abilities surpassing normal humans’ would be completely illegal and unethical, and only a deranged science fiction writer such as myself whose next book features genetically modified humans would even think of it as a possibility.

So, no worries.

(Via PhysOrg.)

(Illustration from Wikimedia Commons.)

[tags]genetics, gene therapy, genetic modification[/tags]