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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Gene Defect Corrected in Human Stem Cells

   
Author Topic: Gene Defect Corrected in Human Stem Cells
Juxtapose
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http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/22724/page1/
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Lisa
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Wow...

If they can really do this, is there any reason they wouldn't be able to change pretty much any genetic attribute in a fully grown person? Change someone's eyes from brown to blue, for example.

And we thought steroids were a problem. <grin>

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rivka
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[Cool]
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King of Men
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quote:
If they can really do this, is there any reason they wouldn't be able to change pretty much any genetic attribute in a fully grown person? Change someone's eyes from brown to blue, for example.
You can change the genes, but you can't (at the moment) redo the developmental path that laid down the pigments and gave the genes effect. Changing the genotype of an adult organism does not necessarily affect the phenotype.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Changing the genotype of an adult organism does not necessarily affect the phenotype.

True. Too late to change height, for instance. Not sure about eye pigment though -- I think that might be a cell type that gets replaced frequently.
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AvidReader
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quote:
Not sure about eye pigment though -- I think that might be a cell type that gets replaced frequently.
I saw a commercial this weekend about a product that can make eyelashes longer and fuller but may change eye pigment to brown. If I see it again, I'll post the name of the stuff.
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rivka
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There are some dietary things that can slightly change eye pigmentation too, IIRC. And some medications that have it as a side effect (again, IIRC).
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King of Men
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Ok, fair enough on the eye pigments, but I think the general point stands. Anything that grows during development and isn't replaced as an adult can't be fixed by gene therapies alone. Later, perhaps we can find ways to fool the body into thinking it's a child or even a fetus again, but that's a separate pathway from just fixing the genes.
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rivka
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I wonder how many things with genetic components are still flexible in adulthood, though. Tendency to lose/gain weight? Ease in developing muscles? Hair color? Skin color?
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King of Men
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The first two sound like they would be hugely complex systems of genes, though, and not amenable to minor changes. I don't think we understand the genetics of that well enough to dare tinker with it.
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rivka
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I don't think the second is, actually. The first is; however, certain of the pieces are well enough understood that labs are developing drugs that target relevant receptors. Why not one that changes the prevalence of the receptors instead?
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T:man
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Skin color might be changeable, skin cells die a lot...
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Happy Camper
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quote:
Originally posted by AvidReader:
quote:
Not sure about eye pigment though -- I think that might be a cell type that gets replaced frequently.
I saw a commercial this weekend about a product that can make eyelashes longer and fuller but may change eye pigment to brown. If I see it again, I'll post the name of the stuff.
Latanoprost (Xalatan), which is a glaucoma treatment drug has that as a side effect. If this was a product which is specifically targeted for the eyelash thing, I suspect it's at least in the same family.
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Changing the genotype of an adult organism does not necessarily affect the phenotype.

True. Too late to change height, for instance. Not sure about eye pigment though -- I think that might be a cell type that gets replaced frequently.
That's what I was thinking.
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Starsnuffer
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Also, a problem with changing the genes of not an embryo is getting the new genetic information to the cells that need to be changed, and avoiding changing ones that don't need to change. And you would have to change existing cells if you weren't going for something like blood cells which replenish/replace themselves.
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rivka
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Mature red blood cells have no DNA. They kick out their nucleus as part of their cell development.
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Achilles
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It's about the methyl tags on the genes too. What we need to do now is inventory protiens.
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Sterling
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Hmm... I wonder if you could "correct" for a localized cancer, if it was caught early...
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Lyrhawn
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As far as muscle development goes, there are a lot of specific amino acids that people who put on muscle easily produce more of, and of course there's testosterone as far as hormones go. Theoretically, ramping up production of those things would make the body more likely to put on muscle faster.

But increased levels of testosterone, at the very least, also has a lot of side effects on the body. I'd fear that while solving one problem, you'd have to tinker with three other things to counteract the side effects.

Just like for weight loss, you could probably speed up the body's metabolism, fat burning processes or like the Alli drug, find a way to block the uptake of fat in the body, but all those things have other side effects as well.

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rivka
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I was thinking of targeting leptin production and uptake for weight issues. And definitely not increasing testosterone for muscle. Might want to increase the uptake/sensitivity of testosterone in key receptors though.
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